Still Pumping Out the Stuff

I don't know the old guy pictured above.

 I think this guy's more Cuil when searching for "Bob Jensen" ---

Bob Jensen's most recent photograph shown above appears under "sexy accountants" in David Albrecht's new accounting humor blog. He has the nerve to claim it really isn't a picture of me. I think he's jealous.

"Sexy Accounting–natural coupling or oxymoron?" The Summa:  Debits and credits of accounting professor David Albrecht, September 5, 2008 ---

In truth, I know one sexy accountant–Bob Jensen. Using a new search engine, Cuil (pronounced cool), I searched on “Bob Jensen Trinity”. The image to the right (above) is returned. No longer young in body, Bob never-the-less is in great condition. Being a professor for forty years seems to have kept him young. Retired, he now lives in the mountains of New Hampshire. Unfortunately, he looks nothing like the image at the right, and he never has! Cuil is cruel.

Over and out - -
David Albrecht

David wrote the following in a September 4, 2008 email message:

I currently live in NW Ohio.  It may sound wierd to many people, but I would like to move north to where there is more of a winter.

Dave Albrecht
Bowling Green

Jensen Comment
Beware of what you wish for David, because it might happen (the icicles are real) ---

The winds up here are real, but not quite as bad as those atop Mt. Washington when I am looking out at that mountain ---
But we do have winds on Sunset Hill that would lift me off the ground like Mary Poppins if I weighed half as much as I weigh now. My 222 lbs keep me on the ground most days.
You can almost feel the wind looking at one of the pictures here ---

And, sigh, when you’re enjoying your Ohio Azaleas in April we must wait up here until June.
Compare are our Azaleas in April versus June ---

I like where I live now, but then I’ve liked every single place where I’ve ever lived including:

·         An Iowa farm where I recall looking over a team of horses at oat bundles that nearly reached the horizon at harvest time ---  

·         A battleship at sea and a boarding house alongside the Iowa State University campus ---

·         A University of Denver coed dormitory (sadly not quite as coed in those days but we had a common lounge and dining hall)

·         An old Victorian Lodge on the Stanford campus (shared with 20 other graduate students)
It was called Manzanita Lodge and was covered with magenta Bouganvilla.

·         An old dairy farm in Michigan (with one cow named “Roast Beef”)
And there was a dumb basset hound named Andy who slept at the top of the stairs and, on occasion, fell down the stairs while turning around in the night.

·         A beach cottage on the ocean in Maine (I miss digging up those steamer clams)
Did you ever buy huge lobsters right off the boat and steam them on the beach at night with best friends three sheets to the wind by the time they sat down on the sand to eat like natives on a tropical island?
How To Eat Lobster ---

·         An acreage with two horses on the outskirts of Tallahassee (I miss the smell of saddle leather soaked in sweat)

·         A lovely house in San Antonio and an elderly retired couple across the street who watched out the window almost daily and ordered us, five minutes after I got home from work, to get our butts over for happy hour (people are often more beautiful than mountains)
I do get lonesome for Texas swing music and dance halls big enough to have bull riding late at night ---

·         A 140 year old cottage overlooking three mountain ranges to the east (White Mountains of New Hampshire) and one mountain range in west (Green Mountains of Vermont) ---
Erika and I love walking down the road during a blizzard to have a beer and a hamburger in the cozy tavern of the Sunset Hill House Hotel. Memories are made of this.

And yes David, I could also be very happy Bowling Green, OH or Manhattan or Luckenbach, TX or San Antonio (although I’m no longer fond of hot and humid weather and city traffic). I’ve been blessed, because everywhere I relocated something or somebody always made me glad to be alive. I certainly hope that life is the same for each and every one of you on the AECM.

I’m certain that you would be a good neighbor with a great sense of humor David and a lot of enthusiasm for life. After my mother died in 1996, my father wanted to live on in his long-time home in Algona, Iowa. I was 1,200 miles due south at the time, but he had neighbors who made his life a wonderful until he passed on to the other side in 2001. He died happy and content in his sleep after watching (on television) the Patriots play football in a snowstorm.

How in the heck did I get off on this tangent?




Tidbits on September 9, 2008 (Early and Incomplete Draft)
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

CPA Examination ---

Despite these noteworthy linguistic strides, the Academy presents Orwell 2008 to a college counselor who advises his clients to deliberately make mistakes on their applications so they "don’t sound like robots." After all, "if you fall into the trap of trying to do everything perfectly," without "typos" and other "creative errors," there's just "no spark left."
Fifteenth Annual Emperor's Awards, Guest commentary by Poor Elijah (Peter Berger), The Irascible Professor, August 19, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
The same can be said for blogs and newsletters.

On May 14, 2006 I retired from Trinity University after a long and wonderful career as an accounting professor in four universities. I was generously granted "Emeritus" status by the Trustees of Trinity University. My wife and I now live in a cottage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire ---

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
       (Also scroll down to the table at )

Global Incident Map ---

Set up free conference calls at
Also see   

U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefit Calculators ---
After 2017 what we would really like is a choice between our full social security benefits or 18 Euros each month ---

Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines ---

Chronicle of Higher Education's 2008-2009 Almanac ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
Bob Jensen's threads on economic and social statistics ---

World Clock ---

Tips on computer and networking security ---

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---

If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops  ---

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---

Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

Front Fell Off (two hilarious Aussie comedians) ---
On August 19th 2007, an oil tanker off the coast of Australia split in two, dumping 20,000 tons of crude oil. Senator Collins, a member of the Australian Parliament, "supposedly" appeared on a TV news program to reassure the Australian public.

Japanese Illusionist ---

The Atlas of Early Printing (interactive slide show) ---

Fun 2008Election Video ---

50th Anniversary of NASA ---

NASA: Everest Expedition ---

Physics History Videos:  Physclips ---

Video: National Geographic's Spore Documentary ---

Free music downloads ---

Amazing Wine Glass Music (video) ---
Ode to Joy ---

Cellist Haimovitz: Classic Bach, Classic Rock ---

Glen Campbell: A Rhinestone Cowboy Returns ---

Bob Jensen listens to music free online (and no commercials) --- 

Photographs and Art

The Friedman Archives (great photographs) ---

Two Men (slide show) ---

Charlie Parker (films in history) ---

The Atlas of Early Printing (interactive slide show) ---

MoMA: Kirchner and the Berlin Street (Art History Slide Show) ---

Zaida Ben-Yusuf: New York Portrait Photographer ---

Portrait Gallery of Canada ---

Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures (Video) ---

1800s Map of Washington DC (from the University of Maryland) ---

Iowa City Town and Campus Scenes Digital Collection ---

Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982 ---

NYPL Digital Library: Cigarette Cards: ABCs ---

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) ---

Guggenheim Museum: Louise Bourgeois ---

Museum of Contemporary Photography ---

National Gallery of London ---

Irish Museum of Modern Art ---

Masters of Photography (video) ---

Samurai Gallery ---

Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

Edward Lear's Nonsense Poetry and Art ---

Luke Surl's Comics and Creative Writing ---

25 Banned Books That You Should Read Today ---
Other banned books ---
By the way, Snopes says that the purported book list that Sarah Palin banned is a false rumor ---

Five Ways to Break Through Writer's Block ---

Writing Prompts --- ---
The Quotations Archive ---
Other quotations finders ---

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---

Vice-President Cheney is even more hated (if that's possible) than President Bush with respect to the Iraq War and the commitment of ever increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq. In his latest book, Bob Woodward reveals that Cheney was left completely out of the loop with respect to decisions made to send in 30,000 additional troops and to replace General Casey with General Petraeus. Why? Because Bush knew that both Cheney and the Pentagon would oppose these decisions. Woodward also reveals a top secret weapon that, more than anything else, is making the Surge work.
Watch the video of Bob Woodward --- 

No matter how you feel about Sarah Palin as a candidate, it’s fun to watch the Congress and the media squirm. What liberal reporters and correspondents have just made public apologies about their negative remarks about Gov. Palin?

Broken Promises and Pork Binges
The Democratic majority came to power in January promising to do a better job on earmarks. They appeared to preserve our reforms and even take them a bit further. I commended Democrats publicly for this action. Unfortunately, the leadership reversed course. Desperate to advance their agenda, they began trading earmarks for votes, dangling taxpayer-funded goodies in front of wavering members to win their support for leadership priorities.

John Boehner, "Pork Barrel Stonewall," The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2007 ---

Sarah Palin has put the flim-flam nature of America feminism sharply into focus, revealing the not-so-secret hypocrisy of its code and, whatever her future, this alone is an accomplishment. As she emerged into the nation's consciousness, a shudder went through the feminist left—a political movement not restricted to females. She is a mother refusing to stay at home (good) who had made a success out in the workplace (excellent) whose marriage nevertheless is a rip-roaring success and whose views are unspeakable—those of a red-blooded, right-wing principled pragmatist.
Barbara Amiel, "What Mrs. Palin Could Learn From Mrs. T, The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2008; Page A15 ---

There is nothing more dangerous to entrenched Washington power than a populist conservative who looks unlikely to buy into Washington's creature comforts. Take a close look at Governor Palin's record on ethics and energy in Alaska, and it becomes clear what this Beltway outburst is actually about. The irony is that while Senator Obama is running on change, his acceptance speech made explicit that he's promising only more power and money for Washington. Sarah Palin's history of taking on the career politicians of a corrupt Alaskan GOP machine -- her own party -- shows that she's the more authentic change agent.
"The Beltway Boys," The Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2008; Page A22 ---
Jensen Comment
The fear of Palin is bipartisan on the Beltway.

She has the power of the normal. Hillary Clinton is grim, stentorian, was born to politics and its connivances. Nancy Pelosi, another mother of five, often seems dazed and ad hoc. But this state governor and mother of a big family is a woman in a good mood. There is something so normal about her, so "You've met this person before and you like her," that she broke through in a new way, as a character vividly herself, and vividly genuine.  . . . She seemed wholly different from, and in fact seemed a refutation to, all the men of Washington at their great desks who make rules others have to live by but they don't have to live by themselves, who mandate work rules from which they exempt Congress, for instance. They don't live by the rules they espouse. She has lived her expressed values. She said yes to a Down Syndrome child. This too is powerful . . . Her flaws accentuated her virtues. Now and then this happens in politics, but it's rare. An example: The very averageness of her voice, the not-wonderfulness of it, highlighted her normality: most people don't have great voices. That normality in turn highlighted the courage she showed in being there, on that stage for the first time in her life and under trying circumstances. Her averageness accentuated her specialness. Her commonality highlighted her uniqueness.
Peggy Noonan, "'A Servant's Heart'," The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2008 4:48 p.m.; Page A11 ---
Jensen Comment
I suspect in the end that the liberal media and the self-serving intellectuals of academe who live by government grants will destroy Sarah Palin, but for her short 15 minutes of fame, isn't it grand to see NBC, Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann, Newsweek, and the New York Times squirm in their biases and hypocrisy?  Sure she accepted the earmarks dangling in front of her for the benefit of her constituency. But so did Senator Obama accept earmarks for his constituency. Nancy Pelosi let earmarks soar after she had the power to curtail this corruption. Do Jon and Keith ever poke fun at the scars on Pelosi's ears?

If you've ever seen a lady with a bee in her bonnet, and all the crazy contortions she'll make to get the darned thing out before it stings her lovely head, you'll understand precisely why the Democrats are taking such crude swats at Governor Sarah Palin. . . . So, what's clearly at the bottom of all the Democrat angst over Governor Sarah Palin? She's not their kind of ordinary, good-old-wink-and-nod party pol. She'll be a bee in the bonnet of every pork-laden, greedy D.C. insider the same way she has been in Alaska. I sincerely doubt that there's a good ole boy or gal this side of hell who isn't squirming, swatting and contorting every which-way to take her out before her potent stinger lands in Washington next January. McCain and Palin are two reformers on the move.
Kyle-Anne Shiver, "Why Palin Is a Bee in Dems' Bonnets," American Thinker, September 1, 2008 ---

The Palin pick already, as Noemie Emery wrote, “Wipes out the image of McCain as the crotchety elder and brings back that of the fly-boy and gambler, which is much more appealing, and the genuine person.” But of course McCain needs Palin to do well to prove he’s a shrewd and prescient gambler. I spent an afternoon with Palin a little over a year ago in Juneau, and have followed her career pretty closely ever since. I think she can pull it off. I’m not the only one. The day after the V.P. announcement, I spoke with an old friend, James Muller, chairman of the political science department at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He said that Palin “has been underestimated over and over again. She took on the party and state establishments here in Alaska, and left them reeling. She’s a very good campaigner, a quick study and a fighter.” Muller called particular attention to her successes in passing an increase to the oil production tax and facilitating the future construction of a huge natural gas pipeline. “At first the oil companies thought she was naïve, and they’d have their way. Instead she faced them down and forced them to compromise on her terms.” Can she face down the Democrats, Joe Biden and the national media over the next couple of months? John McCain is betting she can. Perhaps, as he pondered his vice-presidential selection, he recalled the advice of Margaret Thatcher: “In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”
William Kristol, "A Star Is Born?" The New York Times, September 1, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
This was surprising to me in that it was printed in the GOP-hating NYT.

You want to look like a maverick and like you think outside the box? Pick a woman for a running mate. You want to look good to the evangelicals? Choose a running mate with a Down syndrome child . . . Fisherman, sportswoman, hunter. Speaks truth to power in a state corrupted by oil. Has a son headed to Iraq. A woman who made the decision to carry to term a baby she knew to be developmentally disabled. She makes John McCain, Naval Academy graduate, fighter pilot and prisoner of war, look like just another grouchy, old, rich white guy . . . If you are going to pick a woman for the sake of picking a woman, can you at least make it a credible choice? Can you at least make a choice that doesn't give the gag writers for Jay Leno and Jon Stewart the month off? (The jokes started immediately: She won't be able to hold her own against Joe Biden in a vice presidential debate. But wait until the swimsuit portion of the competition.)
Susan Reimer
, The Baltimore Sun,  September 1, 2008 ---,0,1829342.column

Susan Reimer was shocked to find that her substance free, lie filled attack on John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin generated “More than 8,200  9,159 comments were posted to the column on The Baltimore Sun’s Web site. I received more than 700 personal e-mails and about 50 phone calls.” Even worse for Reimer, her gutter scraping column was read by Rush Limbaugh and Brit Hume and was linked by Drudge as an example of the outrageous treatment that Palin has gotten at the hands of feminist media elites like Reimer. Oh, the humanity!
Werner Todd Huston, "Baltimore Sun Columnist Whines Readers Being Mean to Her," Public Forum, September 6, 2008 ---

An apology? Not really.
The things that were said about me
(replies to her attack on Sarah Palin), my personal appearance and my children - as well as Barack Obama - were beyond the bounds of decency, and many were said in language that might only be seen in a bathroom stall. Generally, the comments were not made behind the veil of anonymity the Internet can provide. The writers signed their names. And they revealed what I think has become the bare-knuckles nature of our national conversation. So much pent-up anger, so much barely concealed hate was released in those e-mails and those postings. I wonder where next they will find a vent. It is still two months until the presidential election. Things could get really rough out there.
Susan Reimer, "Gloves came off when column came out," The Baltimore Sun,  September 5, 2008 ---,0,3664358.column
Reamer gets reamed by her readers ---

. . . (NBC's Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea) Mitchell who said that only uneducated, female voters will be drawn to Sarah Palin, not those smart, college educated ones. At about 5:57 into this clip Andrea Mitchell was brought onto Meet the Press with Goodwin, David Gregory and host Tom Brokaw to tell us all that Sarah Palin will only appeal to uneducated women, not educated ones. At about 5:57 into this clip Andrea Mitchell was brought onto Meet the Press with Goodwin, David Gregory and host Tom Brokaw to tell us all that Sarah Palin will only appeal to uneducated women, not educated ones.
Newsbusters, August 31, 2008 ---

Say what?
"Andrea Mitchell Changes Mind, Now Thinks Palin a Good VP Pick," by Noel Shepard, Newsbusters, September 7, 2008 ---

Sally Quinn (Washington Post Reporter) belittles Sarah Palin ---

Say What?
Sally Quinn Apologizes for Sarah Palin Remarks (Video apology) ---
Jensen Comment
I admire Ms Mitchell and Ms Quinn for apologizing. You would never catch Susan Reimer or Jon Stewart or Keith Olbermann apologizing. I take that back. Keith Olbermann did apologize for his graphic 9/11 tribute played in the lead-up to John McCain's acceptance of the nomination --- 
And when I did a Google search on the phrase "Keith Olbermann aplogizes" I came up with hundreds of hits. Thanks Keith. And I got hundreds of others when I searched for "Jon Stewart apologizes," so I guess it just goes to show that the left wing TV comedians aren't all bad. Rush Limbaugh on occasion has apologized, but not nearly as often as Olbermann and Stewart. Bill O'Reilly, however, is the most apologetic of them all. Just goes to show you that fair play is equal opportunity.

Is The New York Times is apologizing for a Palin Smear? ---
Oops! No the NYT is not apologizing! The NYT's reporter "is completely confident in the word of a single source who has since retracted her claims? What kind of operation are the editors at the Times running?" asks Michael Goldfarb.

Ms Winfrey is by far the world’s best-paid television entertainer, earning an estimated $295 million in the year to June 2007, dwarfing the second-ranking Jerry Seinfeld, on $68 million, according to Forbes magazine. Simon Cowell, a creator and judge of American Idol, the US version of Pop Idol, came third with $51 million.
London Times, October 10, 2007 ---

Oprah's staff is sharply divided on the merits of booking Sarah Palin, sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT. "Half of her staff really wants Sarah Palin on," an insider explains. "Oprah's website is getting tons of requests to put her on, but Oprah and a couple of her top people are adamantly against it because of Obama." One executive close to Winfrey is warning any Palin ban could ignite a dramatic backlash! It is not clear if Oprah has softened her position after watching Palin's historic convention speech. Last year, Winfrey blocked an appearance by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, timed to a promotional tour of his autobiography. Oprah and executive producer Sheri Salata, who has contributed thousands of dollars to Obama's campaign, refused requests for comment.
Drudge Report, September 5, 2008 ---
For nearly $1 billion, Oprah sold her cable network to MSNBC ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 1) ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 2) ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 3) ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 4) ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 5) ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 6) ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 7) ---
Campaigning for Obama (Part 8) ---
Women for Obama ---
Thank You Oprah ---

There is another question though which essentially I’ve heard expressed here many times today and from calls elsewhere, and that is the decision made by Sarah Palin herself, when knowing her daughter’s condition, by accepting John McCain’s offer she guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question. I mean, Republicans, it’s not a partisan question. It’s just a question of whether in fact family values, and whether family values collide in this case. All candidates – David and I have talked about this – have healthy if not overly healthy ambitions. But there had to be some tension here. The ambition of going on a national ticket, and her love and consideration of her daughter, being known once and for all as ‘Aren’t you the daughter who was pregnant of the vice presidential candidate in 2008?
Mark Shields as quoted by Tim Graham, "PBS's Shields Slams Palin for Choosing Ambition Over Her Daughter," Newsbusters, September 2, 2008 ---

Whoopi’s article concluded by suggesting Gov. Palin's speech reminded her of a German-American Nazi rally: "This girl (Palin) is dangerous to me. This is a very dangerous woman, because I believe for her intents and purposes, she’s OK if everybody lives a certain way, that is to say, the way God ordained men and women to be. Well, already she’s breaking that because she’s the daddy. She’s going to run the country and the husband is going to take care of the kids. I just,
Tim Graham, "Whoopi Goldberg: Palin Sounds Pro-Nazi: Wants to 'Succeed' From U.S. Newsbusters, September 2, 2008 --- 

The big photo of Sarah on CNN shows her as Nazi? ---

Speaking at the fundraiser, Mrs. Obama insinuated that she doesn't think Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is very bright.
Michael Bates, "Michelle Obama disses Palin, promises gay adoption rights," Batesline, September 6, 2008 ---

Sarah Palin is really just a Barbie doll ---
She just would not understand how to cripple the U.S. Military ---

Snopes Sets Some Palin Politically Correct Rumors Straight

"Anger at fake Sarah Palin photos as smear campaign makes her 'look like a stripper' "  --- Click Here

"The Media loves to hate Sarah Palin," by Howie Carr, Boston Herald, September 7, 2008 --- Click Here

She admits smoking pot as a teenager, which sets a terrible example for the youth of America, unlike Barack Obama, who admits smoking pot as a teenager, and whose “refreshing candor” is a breath of fresh air after eight years of Cheney-Bush.

She went to multiple colleges as an undergraduate, which shows how flighty and immature she is, unlike Barack Obama, who went to multiple colleges as an undergraduate, which shows the inquisitive nature of his intelligence, which has been such an inspiration, at least to everyone who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

She has been known to put out a flag - an American flag, of all things - on the Fourth of July.

The pregnancy and impending shotgun marriage of her teen daughter, Bristol, sets a terrible example for the youth of America, unlike the pregnancy of the teen movie character “Juno,” who sets a wonderful example for the youth of America by refusing to marry.

Sarah Palin is so stupid that on Friday she called the Penn State football team the “Nittaly Lions” - oh wait, scratch that, that was Barack Obama, who again proved his intellect by showing he has much weightier issues on his mind than college football. And who even cares about Penn State anyway, it’s not an Ivy League school.

She’s a member of the Alaska Independence Party - correction, she isn’t, it was The New York Times [NYT] that printed the flat-out lie that she was, in a story that, so said the Times, “called into question how thoroughly Mr. McCain had examined her background.”

You must understand printing lies about Republican candidates is OK. It’s called “vetting.” Printing the truth about liberals - that’s called “swift-boating.” From career MSNBC jock sniffer Keith Olbermann to Barney Frank’s favorite publisher Jann Wenner, the verdict on Palin is unanimous.

The naysayers run the gamut of the political spectrum, from A to B. Sarah is a heretic on everything they gullibly believe in, most significantly global warming. For that blasphemy alone the PC Inquistion insists on the traditional penalty: She must be burned at the stake!

Twelve years ago, she considered banning books at the Wasilla Public Library, which is a chilling assault on the First Amendment, unlike Barack Obama, whose campaign 12 days ago tried to shout down an appearance on Chicago radio of an investigative reporter looking into ties between Barack and rabid terrorist Bill Ayers. But that mob of Barack brownshirts besieging WGN can in no way be compared to what Palin did because well, uh, um, it just can’t be, if you know what’s good for you.

Jensen Comment
Snopes says that the purported book list that Sarah Palin banned is a false rumor ---

Faced with the Sarah Palin phenomenon, Wenner's (publisher of the Rolling Stones Magazine) liberal politics seem to have kicked into gear. While other celebrity-fixated magazines such as OK! cooed over the new Republican vice-presidential candidate, US Weekly devoted page after page to her teenage daughter's pregnancy, allegations over her conduct in office, as well as "new embarrassing surprises". However, the mass exodus of subscribers following the issue's launch seems
The First Post, Sepbember 5, 2008 ---,1350,jann-wenner-slips-up-with-sarah-palin-attack,43521

Andrea Mrozek, "The New Face of Feminism," Canada's National Post, September 3, 2008 --- 

Note that The Guardian is a liberal magazine even by U.K standards
"When Barack's berserkers lost the plot," by Nick Cohen, The Guardian, September 7, 2008 ---

My colleagues in the American liberal press had little to fear at the start of the week. Their charismatic candidate was ahead in virtually every poll. George W Bush was so unpopular that conservatives were scrambling around for reasons not to invite the Republican President to the Republican convention. Democrats had only to maintain their composure and the White House would be theirs. During the 1997 British general election, the late Lord Jenkins said that Tony Blair was like a man walking down a shiny corridor carrying a precious vase. He was the favourite and held his fate in his hands. If he could just reach the end of the hall without a slip, a Labour victory was assured. The same could have been said of the American Democrats last week. But instead of protecting their precious advantage, they succumbed to a spasm of hatred and threw the vase, the crockery, the cutlery and the kitchen sink at an obscure politician from Alaska.

For once, the postmodern theories so many of them were taught at university are a help to the rest of us. As a Christian, conservative anti-abortionist who proved her support for the Iraq War by sending her son to fight in it, Sarah Palin was 'the other' - the threatening alien presence they defined themselves against. They might have soberly examined her reputation as an opponent of political corruption to see if she was truly the reformer she claimed to be. They might have gently mocked her idiotic creationism, while carefully avoiding all discussion of the racist conspiracy theories of Barack Obama's church.

But instead of following a measured strategy, they went berserk. On the one hand, the media treated her as a sex object. The New York Times led the way in painting Palin as a glamour-puss in go-go boots you were more likely to find in an Anchorage lap-dancing club than the Alaska governor's office.

On the other, liberal journalists turned her family into an object of sexual disgust: inbred rednecks who had stumbled out of Deliverance. Palin was meant to be pretending that a handicapped baby girl was her child when really it was her wanton teenage daughter's. When that turned out to be a lie, the media replaced it with prurient coverage of her teenage daughter, who was, after all, pregnant, even though her mother was not going to do a quick handover at the maternity ward and act as if the child was hers.

Hatred is the most powerful emotion in politics. At present, American liberals are not fighting for an Obama presidency. I suspect that most have only the haziest idea of what it would mean for their country. The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.

In this, American liberals are no different from the politically committed the world over. David Cameron knew that he would never be Prime Minister until he had killed the urgent hatred of the Conservative party in liberal England. A measure of his success is that hardly anyone now is caught up by the once ubiquitous feeling that no compromise is too great if it stops the Tories regaining power. Hate can sell better than hope.

When a hate campaign goes wrong, however, disaster follows. And everything that could go wrong with the campaign against Palin did. American liberals forgot that the public did not know her. By the time she spoke at the Republican convention, journalists had so lowered expectations that a run-of-the-mill speech would have been enough to win the evening.

As it was, her family appeared on stage without a goitre or a club foot between them, and Palin made a fighting speech that appealed over the heads of reporters to the public we claim to represent. 'I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion,' she said as she deftly detached journalists from their readers and viewers. 'I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country.'

English leftists made the same mistake of allowing their hatred to override their judgment after the Iraq war. If they had confined themselves to charging Tony Blair with failing to find the weapons of mass destruction he promised were in Iraq, and sending British troops into a quagmire, they might have forced him out. They were so consumed by loathing, however, they insisted that he had lied, which he clearly had not. They set the bar too low and Blair jumped it with ease. 'When a man believes that any stick will do, he at once picks up a boomerang,' said GK Chesterton, and when the politically committed go on a berserker you should listen for the sound of their own principles smacking them in the face.

Journalists who believe in women's equality should not spread sexual smears about a candidate, or snigger at her teenage daughter's pregnancy, or declare that a mother with a young family cannot hold down a responsible job for the pragmatic reason that they will look like gross hypocrites if they do. Before Palin, we saw hypocrisy of the right when shock jocks who had spent years denouncing feminism came over all politically correct when Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky.

In Britain, the most snobbish attacks on Margaret Thatcher did not come from aristocrats but from the communist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who opined that Thatcherism was the 'anarchism of the lower middle classes' and the liberal Jonathan Miller, who deplored her 'odious suburban gentility'. More recently, George Osborne, of the supposedly compassionate Conservative party, revealed himself to be a playground bully when he derided Gordon Brown for being 'faintly autistic'.

In an age when politics is choreographed, voters watch out for the moments when the public-relations facade breaks down and venom pours through the cracks. Their judgment is rarely favourable when it does. Barack Obama knows it. All last week, he was warning American liberals to stay away from the Palin family. He understands better than his supporters that it is not a politician's enemies who lose elections, but his friends.

But it ain't about how hard you hit.
It's about how hard you can get hit and keep movin' forward.
It's about how much you can take and keep movin' forward.
That's how winning is done!

From Rocky ---
Jim Carey's version ---

In her speech last week, Palin gave a little jab back at "all those reporters and commentators." That won't likely win her many new admirers in the Washington press corps.
Brian M. Carney, "Political Diary," The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2008 ---

Nor should this blitz against the news media from the right be dismissed as simply glib and tired lines from the old Republican playbook. “The mainstream media, which has been holding endless symposia here on the future of media in the 21st century, is in danger of missing a central fact of that future,” wrote Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist and former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan. “If they appear, once again, as they have in the past, to be people not reporting the battle but engaged in the battle, if they allow themselves to be tagged by that old tag, which so tarnished them in the past, they will do more to imperil their own future than the Internet has.”
Mark Leibovich, "Who, Us?" The New York Times, September 7, 2008 ---

Tensions are running high at MSNBC, at least surrounding veteran host Joe Scarborough who seems to be increasingly discontented at his network's decision to market itself as the cable net of choice for Bush haters. That hasn't sat well with the likes of the far left (Surge-hating and Bush-hating) Keith Olbermann who has played a large role in getting MSNBC to pursue this strategy The Democratic convention seems to have only exacerbated those tensions. Last night saw Olbermann caught on an open mic blurting out profane disgust at Scarborough, prompting the latter to verbally call him out while fellow MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews . . .
Newsbusters, August 25, 2008 ---
Watch the video ---
Also see the video ---

Researchers have determined the secret to a fly's evasive maneuvering from a looming swatter by using high-resolution, high-speed digital imaging.
"Caltech Scientists Discover Why Flies Are so Hard to Swat." Converge Magazine, September 2, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Homeland Security would like to remotely send what flies see back to the CIA and FBI. The problem to date is that the flies seem to prefer honing in on horse butts  and Keith Olbermann rather than terrorists making bombs.

At a forum on Sunday, when Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called MSNBC "the official network of the Obama campaign," Brokaw said, "I think Keith has gone too far. I think Chris has gone too far." Insiders say Olbermann is pushing to have Brokaw banned from the network and is also refusing to have centrist Time magazine columnist Mike Murphy on his show.
P.J. Gladnik quoting from the New York Post, Newsbusters, August 27, 2008 ---
The Bad News Bush Videos on NBC ---
     Also see
The Good News Bush Videos on NBC --- You've got to be kidding

Did major international media, including wire services Reuters and The Associated Press, clumsily help spread pro-Georgian propaganda during the recent war with Russia? Perhaps so, based on possibly staged photos by Reuters photogs David Mdzinarishvili and Gleb Garanich, and George Abdaladze, an Reuters AP shooter. Several blogs, most notably Byzantine Blog, have highlighted some, ahem, curious details in a series of photos claiming to portray civilian casualties of Russian attacks on the town of Gori. Danger Room pal Bryan William Jones, himself a photographer, brought our attention to this. On his own he noticed details in several pics that he says "made me sit up and say WTF?" One series of photos from Gori might show bodies changing location and poses, while one photogenic Georgian man appears in several different photo series, shot by different photogs, "grieving" for the dead ... apparently without ever looking at the camera being shoved in his face.The photos are especially suspect when compared to clearly real snapshots from the conflict, Jones points out.
David Axe, "Possibly Staged Pics Fueled Georgian Propaganda Push (Updated, Corrected and Bumped)," Danger Room, September 5, 2008 ---

Rick Perlstein, the author of the recent "Nixonland" -- an 896-page argument that Nixon's malign influence on postwar American politics reflected the malignity of his own soul -- has now edited "Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents." It is the latest in the James Madison Library in American Politics, of which Sean Wilentz, the eminent Princeton professor, is the general editor. The idea of collecting the 37th president's miscellaneous prose is excellent and overdue. Some of Nixon's most important writings -- for instance, 1967's "Asia After Viet Nam," where he first advanced the idea of bringing Red China in from the cold -- have been unavailable for a long time or hard to find. In a general editor's introduction, Mr. Wilentz states that this collection will be "the autobiography [Nixon] did not write" -- which is awkward because Mr. Perlstein's first selection is from "RN" (1978), the 1,038-page autobiography Mr. Nixon did write . . . A much more shrewd and realistic portrayal of Nixon can be found in Conrad Black's "Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full." As in his 2003 biography of FDR, Lord Black combines a mastery of his material with elegant (if occasionally overreaching) prose; and he brings a worldly outlook and sophisticated analysis to his subject. He admires Nixon's accomplishments, but his book is hardly hagiography.
Frank Gannon, "Finally Getting to Know Him," The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2008, Page A15 ---

The United Nations has long been an enabler of Burma's tyrannical leaders. Last week it reached a new low. Ibrahim Gambari, the U.N.'s special envoy to Burma, spent six days in the country, meeting almost exclusively with government ministers and government-backed "political parties" to discuss the junta's "road map to democracy," under which "elections" will be held in 2010. As during prior trips, the junta rejected Mr. Gambari's offer of U.N. election monitors for 2010. The fact that Mr. Gambari is focusing on the next sham election instead of the current lack of political freedoms is a diplomatic victory for the generals. The ruling junta has already ignored international criticism for its crackdown on peaceful demonstrators last year and its mishandling of Cyclone Nargis, which killed 85,000 in May.
"U.N. ♥ Burma's Generals -- II," The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2008 ---

Only a united Europe could stop Russia from cutting bilateral deals that are advantageous for individual countries but disastrous for the EU as a whole. Only a united Europe could hold Gazprom accountable to transparency and competition rules, stopping the firm from dictating its terms and playing one EU country against the other. The EU correctly points out that Russia needs European energy consumers just as much as Europe needs Russian energy suppliers. Moscow, though, has managed to turn this mutual dependence into one-sided leverage. It's time to reverse this trend. Ultimately, it all comes down to political will in Western Europe -- and the longer Russian tanks remain in Georgia, the clearer it becomes that such will is lacking.
Zeyno Baran, "A Bear Energy Market," The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2008 ---

I came across this interesting speech by CFTC Commissioner, Bart Chillton. In this speech he gives three loopholes exploited by future market traders - Enron loophole, London loophole and Swaps loophole. Basically all have a similar theme- one market is regulated and other is not and both have near similar products. The regulators can only watch the former and the traders switch and build volumes in the latter. This is actually problematic as because of innovation, one can create similar instruments in another exchange and build up positions (he explains that is what Amaranth traders did). Now what should a regulator do? He says we need more cooperation between regulators.
Amol Agrawal, Mostly Economics, September 1, 2008 ---

What began as a team project they proposed during the 2007 Institute has turned into Enhanced Vehicle Acoustics, a San Francisco Bay Area-based business that has developed technology to transform nearly soundless hybrid cars into vehicles that pedestrians can hear. Meyer, who holds an MD and PhD in immunology from Stanford, told 2008 institute participants on July 10 about the challenges he sees for his new firm. Enhanced Vehicle Acoustics also involves Bai and a third key player, Brook Reeder, another ’07 Institute participant who holds a master’s degree from the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. “The spirit of this course is learning by trial and error and then pushing forward,” said Meyer. “We’ve had a lot of good advice.” The four-week business management program is designed for graduate students from non-business fields who have dreamed up a good idea for a company. There are 72 people attending the 2008 Institute, 66 of them from Stanford.
Michele Chandler, "Young Inventors Make Hybrid Cars Noisier," Stanford GSB News, July 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Why not just broadcast a recording of an 18-wheeler? I seriously tried this in an effort to keep armadillos from digging up my back yard in San Antonio. But it didn't work. The armadillos ignored my recordings altogether and continued to uproot my lawn on a nightly basis. I then tried to trap them, but they're wary of traps. I figured if I shot them with my 22-cal. pistol, the bullets would just bounce off their armor plating. I guess this is why they've survived since prehistoric times. They survived very well in my back yard.

This film, really isn't for anybody other than the (Obama) choir. But that's because I believe the choir needs a song to sing every now and then.
Michael Moore
Jensen Comment
Is the price just too high for Michael Moore's new film?
"Michael Moore to release new film online for free," by Jake Coyle, The Washington Post, September 5, 2008 --- Click Here
"Slacker Uprising" ---
Impeach the President*** | Call Your Congressperson | Sign the Petition | Impeach Him in the Streets (VIDEO) ---
Is Michael Moore's pacifist/populist activism support of Obama and Biden hurting them more than helping them?
Possibly, because liberal populists already intend to vote for Obama and Biden, whereas others are turned off by Moore's self-serving promotions of himself.
Witness how the Obama Campaign distances itself from Moore and other pacifist activists. Smart move on Senator Obama's part.
No Michael, even the millions dollars you're spending for Obama and Biden won't get you invited to the Inaugural Ball.

The Liberal Skew in Hollywood ---

"Why Is Hollywood Dominated by Liberals?" by Richard Posner, The Becker-Posner Blog, August 24, 2008 ---

A recent article in the Washington Times by Amy Fagan, entitled “Hollywood’s Conservative Underground,  (visited Aug. 23, 2008), is a reminder of the curious domination of the American film industry by left liberals. The industry’s left-wing slant drives the Right crazy (if you Google "Hollywood Liberals," you'll encounter an endless number of fierce, often paranoid, denunciations by conservative bloggers and journalists of Hollywood's control by the Left). Fagan's article depicts Hollywood conservatives as an embattled minority, forced to meet in secret lest the revelation of their political views lead to their being blacklisted by the industry. The conservatives' complaint is an ironic echo of the 1950s, when communists and fellow travelers in Hollywood--who were numerous--were blacklisted by the movie studios.

We need to distinguish between actors, actresses, set designers, scriptwriters, directors, and other "creative" (that is, artistic) film personnel, on the one hand, and the business executives and shareholders of the film studios, on the other hand. (Producers are closer to the second, the business, echelon than to the creative echelon.) The creative workers, I think, are not so much magnetized by left-wing politics as drawn to political extremes--for there have been a number of extremely conservative Hollywood actors, such as Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Mel Gibson, and Jon Voight--Voight recently wrote a fiercely conservative op-ed in the Washington Times, where Fagan's article was published. The left end of the political spectrum in this country is still somewhat more respectable than the right end, and so if one finds a class of persons who are drawn to political polarization, more will end up at the far liberal end of the political spectrum than at the far conservative end, yet it will be polarization rather than leftism as such that explains the imbalance. No one has a good word for Stalin and Mao nowadays, but socialism is not a dirty word, as fascism is.

But why should actors and other creative workers in the Hollywood film industry, and indeed "cultural workers" more generally, be drawn to political extremes? The nature of their work, which combines irregular employment with high variance in income, an engagement with imaginative rather than realistic concepts, noninvolvement in the production of "useful" goods or service, and, traditionally, a bohemian style of living (a consequence of the other factors I have mentioned), distances them from the ordinary, everyday world of work and family in a basically rather conservative, philistine, and emphatically commercial society, which is the society of the United States today.

The choice of a political ideology, which is to say of a general orientation that guides a person's response to a variety of specific political and ethical issues, is less a matter of conscious choice or weighing of evidence than of a feeling of comfort with the advocates and adherents of the ideology. An ideology attractive to solid bourgeois types is unlikely to be attractive to cultural workers as I have described them. So we should not expect those workers to subscribe to the conventional political values, and apparently a disproportionate number of them do not. Moreover, though most actors and other creative film workers are not particularly intellectual, as cultural producers much in the public eye they have a natural affinity with public intellectuals, who I found in my book Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline (2001) split about 2/3 liberal 1/3 conservative.

The situation of Hollywood's business executives, including investors in the film business, is different. They are not cultural workers, and one expects their focus to be firmly on the bottom line. It is true that the Hollywood film industry was founded largely by Jews and has always been very heavily Jewish, and that Jews of all income levels are disproportionately liberal. But if Hollywood based its selection of movies to produce and sell on the political views of the studios' owners and managers, that would be commercial suicide, as competitors would rush in to cater to audiences' desires. The idea that Hollywood is a propaganda machine for the Left is not only improbable as theory but empirically unsupported. Hollywood produces antiwar movies during unpopular wars and pro-war movies during popular ones (as during World War II), movies that ridicule minorities when minorities are unpopular and movies that flatter them when discrimination becomes unfashionable, movies that steer away from frank presentation of sex when society is strait-laced and movies that revel in sex when the society, or at least the part of the society that consumes films avidly, society turns libertine. The Hollywood film industry follows taste rather than creating taste, as one expects business firms to do.

What troubles conservatives about Hollywood is less the promotion in movies of left-liberal policies than the breakdown of the old taboos. Those taboos were codified in the Hays Code, which was in force between 1934 and 1968 with the backing of the Catholic Church. The code forbade disrespect of religion and marriage, obscene and scatological language, sexual innuendo, and nudity. The code was abandoned because of changing mores in society rather than because leftwingers suddenly took over Hollywood. If conservatives bought the studios and reinstituted the Hays Code they would soon be out of business. But what is true is that when movie audiences demand vulgar fare, then given that conservatives are more disturbed by vulgarity than liberals are, the film industry becomes less attractive to conservatives as a place to work in. This may be an additional reason for the left-liberal slant of the industry. But as long as the industry is an unregulated competitive industry, market forces will prevent studio heads and owners from trying to impose their own values on audiences, rather than trying to create movies that are in sync with those values.

"Why Is Hollywood Dominated by Liberals?" by Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, The Becker-Posner Blog, August 24, 2008 ---

For every Ronald Reagan Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Voight, Charlton Heston, and a few other prominent conservative Hollywood stars, there are probably more than 50 strongly liberal actors, directors, producers, and other "above the line" categories of filmmakers. The top "below the line" categories of cinematographers and production designers are also heavily liberal.Less creative crew members, such as grips, have political views that are closer to those of the general American voting population.

Posner gives several explanations of the liberality of filmmakers, including their engagement in fantasy projects, their irregular employment, and the prominence of Jews, who are mainly liberal, in the industry. There is an additional consideration of great importance. Whereas most actors and other filmmakers have little interest in tax policy, approaches to Medicare and social security, other domestic economic and political questions, and even in many foreign policy issues (except wars), they are very much concerned about policies regarding personal morals. I believe the single most important reason why so many of these Hollywood creative personnel are opposed to the Republican party, especially to the more conservative members of this party, is that the personal morals of many filmmakers deviate greatly from general norms of the American population.

Creative contributors to films divorce in large numbers, often several times. Many have frequent affairs, often while married, they have children without marriage, they have significant numbers of abortions, have a higher than average presence of gays, especially in certain of the creative categories, who are open about their sexual preferences, they take cocaine and other drugs, and generally they lead a life style that differs greatly from what is more representative of the American public. By contrast, an important base of the Republican Party is against out of wedlock births, strongly pro life and against abortions, against gays, especially those who adopt an publicly gay lifestyle, against affairs while married, and very much oppose the legalization of drugs like cocaine and even marijuana.

It becomes impossible for Hollywood types who adopt these different lifestyles to support a political party that is so openly and prominently critical of important aspects of their way of living. That the majority of the relatively few conservative filmmakers lead more ordinary lifestyles confirms this hypothesis: they tend to be heterosexual, married, have children while married, are less into drugs, and in other ways too have more conventional lifestyles. True, some of the most prominent conservative member of Hollywood, such as Reagan and Voight, have been divorced, but divorce is now more accepted even by most conservative Republicans. After all, Ronald Reagan was a darling of conservative Republicans, and John McCain also has been divorced. Note that below the line members of crews lead more conventional life styles, and so they are less likely to be anti conservatives and against Republicans.

When other issues affect filmmakers more than attacks on their morals, their views often become very different. So while many of the more creative filmmakers consider themselves to be socialists, filmmakers, writers, and other creative types in communist countries were typically very strongly opposed to their governments. The obvious reason is that these governments imposed substantial censorship on the type of films that could be made, and so directly interfered with what filmmakers and writers wanted to do.

Another important factor stressed to me by Guity Nashat Becker is that members of the print and visual media who generally have strongly liberal political views surround actors and other creative contributors to films. Since it is well established that political views are greatly affected by the attitudes of people one interacts with closely, it is not surprising that some of the liberality of the media rub off on actors and others in the filmmaking industry. In addition to their concern about political approaches to personal morality, their association with the media helps make filmmakers anti-business, especially big business, and strongly pro-union.

Do the liberal views of Hollywood stars and leaders have a big affect on the opinions of others? I do not know of any evidence on this, but I suspect they only have a small indirect effect. This is not the result of speeches or other statements of their views-since they usually are not articulate in their extemporaneous comments- but their entertainment at various political functions can help generate enthusiastic audiences. More important probably is that whereas audiences do not go to films unless they enjoy them, anti-business and other liberal views will often be an underlying message of popular films. I doubt of these messages have a large permanent effect on the opinions of the audiences, but some affect is surely possible. So all in all, I believe Hollywood is a very minor contributor to general political views, but I do not think their influence can be fully dismissed.

Bob Jensen's threads on the liberal skew in higher education are at


Reconsidering Blackboard
The dominant — and domineering — provider of course-management software has become the company that many campus-technology officials love to hate, especially when it raises prices. Now more colleges are looking at free, open-source alternatives. But Blackboard promises that its new Next Generation software will keep the company ahead of competitors.

"Blackboard Customers Consider Alternatives: Open-source software for course management poses market challenge," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 12, 2008 ---

Matthew Henry, programming-services manager at LeTourneau University, sat near the front of a ballroom with his arms crossed, ready to watch a multimedia preview of Blackboard Inc.'s next course-management system.

He arrived here in July for the company's annual user conference with more than a few complaints about the company. Its service is poor, he said, its behavior toward competitors is overly aggressive, and its fast growth in recent years has distracted it from supporting the product that helped make it a giant in the usually quiet world of college software.

Blackboard has become the Microsoft of higher-education technology, say many campus-technology officials, and they don't mean the comparison as a compliment. To them the company is not only big but also pushy, and many of them love to hate it.

Mr. Henry's mission here, as he waited with four colleagues from LeTourneau, was to determine whether the company's software remains the best choice to run the Texas university's course Web pages, online discussion boards, digital gradebooks, and other teaching tools, which have become as standard as physical whiteboards on college campuses.

New software called Blackboard NG, for Next Generation, is supposed to keep the company a step ahead and keep people such as Mr. Henry as customers. The user conference was its first public display. "I'm anxious to see whether Blackboard NG is just hype or something that's going to solve our problems" with the company, said Mr. Henry, as the lights dimmed for the presentation.

LeTourneau's contract with Blackboard ends this year, and campus officials may join the growing number of colleges switching to Moodle, a free, open-source course-management system, or Sakai, another free program. Those systems have grown feature-rich enough to pose serious challenges to Blackboard. Giants like the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California at Los Angeles, along with smaller colleges, like Louisiana State University at Shreveport, have made the jump.

"There are a lot of institutions right now that are upset with Blackboard, to say the least, and looking for alternatives," says Michael Zastrocky, vice president for research at Gartner Inc., a consulting firm that tracks trends in higher-education technology. "They caused a backlash that's been very difficult for them to overcome."

Blackboard is heading for a showdown with the free-software movement, according to some observers. Although Blackboard remains the clear market leader — about 66 percent of American colleges use its software as their standard, says the Campus Computing Project, an annual survey — there are signs that open-source alternatives are starting to gain ground. The survey found that the proportion of colleges using Moodle as their standard rose from 4.2 percent in 2006 to 7.8 percent in 2007, and that about 3 percent of colleges have selected Sakai. A recent survey by the Instructional Technology Council, which promotes distance learning, found that the proportion of its member colleges using Moodle jumped from 4 percent last year to more than 10 percent this year. The proportion using Blackboard fell slightly.

Blackboard's leaders say they see no sign of an exodus to commercial or open-source rivals. "There's not more people leaving now than there were yesterday," said Blackboard's chief executive, Michael L. Chasen, in an interview this summer in the company's new corporate offices, in Washington, where the brightly lit white corridors and modern accents in staff lounges make it look a bit like a Star Trek starship.

Growing Goliath

How big is Blackboard? Three years ago it acquired its major rival, WebCT, solidifying its dominance of the course-management market. The company has also bought other companies in recent years, including the NTI Group, which makes emergency-notification software, and Xythos Software, which makes content-management programs.

How pushy is it? Blackboard claimed a patent on processes that many college officials say were already in widespread use. After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent, in 2006, Blackboard sued a leading rival, Desire2Learn, claiming infringement. Many saw the move as trying to bully a competitor. (A federal judge found in favor of Blackboard, although the decision has been appealed).

Such tactics are common in other business sectors, says Trace A. Urdan, an education-industry analyst with Signal Hill, an investment firm, but not in the world of college software. "They're sharks operating in this universe where you don't see a lot of sharks," he says of Blackboard's leaders. For him that is a compliment. "They're smart," he says.

Mr. Urdan argues that the legal battle has probably caused enough uncertainty about Desire2Learn's future to scare off larger software companies who might otherwise have considered buying it and turning it into a more serious competitor.

Colleges say they have reason for concern about Blackboard's growing dominance. Their biggest fear is that the company will jack up prices once colleges have become reliant on its products. As one of Sakai's founders, Bradley Wheeler, chief information officer at Indiana University, puts it, "When switching costs get high, you can raise the rent."

Blackboard officials have attempted to calm such concerns and to convince colleges that it is a good partner. Two years ago, after the higher-education technology group Educause took the unusual step of issuing a statement criticizing the company's behavior over the patent, Blackboard's leaders held a town-hall session at Educause's annual conference to answer questions and listen as college officials vented.

But some of those college leaders say the company's ways haven't significantly changed since then.

"That's the first thing that comes to people's mind when you come to Blackboard — its lawsuit," says Stephen G. Landry, chief information officer at Seton Hall University, which uses Blackboard. "I don't like working with a company that seems to spend as much money on legal and financial folks as they do on developers."

So now that open-source options are ready for prime time, many colleges are taking a cold, hard look at the price, reliability, and features of Moodle and Sakai.

Hidden Costs

Price seems like an obvious advantage of open-source software. After all, it is free. But officials say open-source programs can end up costing just as much as, or even more than, Blackboard's software when staff time is taken into account. It all depends on how much customization a college wants, or how many features it needs.

"The software is free, but you have to buy the computers to put it on, and you have to buy a development team to move it forward," says Donna Crystal Llewellyn, director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at Georgia Tech, which recently switched from WebCT to Sakai. Saving money was not the goal, she says, adding that the university already had a staff of programmers to tackle the challenge.

"Our faculty are very techno-savvy," she says. "They always think they can do something better than someone else that's already put it in a box."

But many smaller colleges say price was indeed a major reason to move away from Blackboard.

"They continued to raise the prices," says Scott Hardwick, assistant director of information-technology services on Louisiana State's Shreveport campus, which a few years ago gave up Blackboard for Moodle.

"Had we continued paying what Blackboard wanted us to pay, it probably would have been $100,000 a year," he says. Now the university pays only about $5,000 a year to an outside company that provides support for the Moodle software. "It's definitely cheaper," says Mr. Hardwick, even considering the time he spends on maintenance.

Professors, too, at Shreveport have been pleased with Moodle. The only complaint Mr. Hardwick says he has heard is that Moodle's user interface doesn't look as slick as Blackboard's. "I'm like, 'Seriously, that's your complaint? It doesn't look as slick?' Apparently that's a huge deal for people."

Blackboard's chief executive, Mr. Chasen, defended his company's prices. "I don't think that we're too expensive," he said in the interview. "Compared to other enterprise software, we're a fraction of the cost." There's a good chance, he said, that colleges "bought their human-resources package for a million dollars."

A Supportive Environment

The downside of open-source software is that because it is free, there's no one company to call if things go wrong. But the downside of buying a commercial program is that if its maker provides poor support, it's hard to get under the hood yourself to make a fix.

Blackboard has a history of poor support, according to many college officials.

"Support in the past has certainly been a challenge for us," Mr. Chasen acknowledged. He blamed the company's rapid growth. "We went from 100 clients to now over 5,000 clients in a relatively short time, and support is one of those areas that lagged behind."

The company recently hired an outside firm as part of an effort to improve its customer service. "We're on the way to answering it," said Mr. Chasen. "We know that support is improving. Is it there yet? No, we still have a long way to go. But over the next few months, you'll start to see significant improvements across the board."

Some colleges running open-source programs initially had concerns about whether free software could be scaled to provide Web sites and services for thousands of courses on large campuses. But UCLA recently decided to use Moodle across the campus, and things are going smoothly as it adds about 900 course Web sites on the system per quarter, says Rosemary Rocchio, director of academic applications in the office of information technoogy there.

But the university has plenty of programmers to handle issues that crop up, she notes. "If you're a small university, and you don't have IT staff, then open source isn't a great solution," she says. "I don't think it's one size fits all."

Innovation as Attraction

The biggest benefit of open-source software, say many observers, is that if a college wants a new feature, it can simply build it, since the entire program code is open. When a college adds a new feature, it shares the code with everyone else using the software.

Blackboard's Mr. Chasen argued that there are benefits to the corporate model of software publishing, too. "I have 300 people on my development team working full time on our products and services," he said. "I don't know if there are 300 full-time people currently working on Sakai. Maybe there are. I have a multimillion-dollar hardware-testing lab just to test scalability."

"At a minimum," he said, "we are at least just as innovative as open source."

Michael Korcuska, executive director of the Sakai Foundation, a nonprofit group that coordinates the use of the open-source software, argues that the open-source model is quicker to react to needs of colleges than Blackboard is. "The people doing the work and deciding what features go in the system are sitting on campus next to the users, not in some back office somewhere," he says.

But Mr. Urdan, the industry analyst, says fine-tuning software is a "luxury" that most colleges can't afford. The slight improvements are often not worth the man-hours and dollar costs of adopting them, he says.

The Next Generation

Many of those arguments, users say, will be settled by the performance of Blackboard's new product.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard and other alternatives ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course authoring and management technologies are at


That some bankers have ended up in prison is not a matter of scandal, but what is outrageous is the fact that all the others are free.
Honoré de Balzac

Bankers bet with their bank's capital, not their own. If the bet goes right, they get a huge bonus; if it misfires, that's the shareholders' problem.
Sebastian Mallaby. Council on Foreign Relations, as quoted by Avital Louria Hahn, "Missing:  How Poor Risk-Management Techniques Contributed to the Subprime Mess," CFO Magazine, March 2008, Page 53 ---
Now that the Fed is going to bail out these crooks with taxpayer funds makes it all the worse.

The bourgeoisie can be termed as any group of people who are discontented with what they have, but satisfied with what they are
Nicolás Dávila


The Treasury Department on Sunday seized control of the quasi-public mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and announced a four-part rescue plan that included an open-ended guarantee to provide as much capital as they need to stave off insolvency.

"U.S. Unveils Takeover of Two Mortgage Giants," by Edmund L. Andrews, The New York Times, Septembr 7, 2008 ---

At a news conference on Sunday morning, the Treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. also announced that he had dismissed the chief executives of both companies and replaced them with two long-time financial executives. Herbert M. Allison, the former chairman of TIAA-CREF, the huge pension fund for teachers, will take over Fannie Mae and succeed Daniel H. Mudd. At Freddie Mac, David M. Moffett, currently a senior adviser at the Carlyle Group, the large private equity firm, will succeed Richard F. Syron. Mr. Mudd and Mr. Syron, however, will stay on temporarily to help with the transition.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so large and so interwoven in our financial system that a failure of either of them would cause great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe,” Mr. Paulson said. “This turmoil would directly and negatively impact household wealth: from family budgets, to home values, to savings for college and retirement. A failure would affect the ability of Americans to get home loans, auto loans and other consumer credit and business finance. And a failure would be harmful to economic growth and job creation.”

Mr. Paulson refused to say how much capital the government might eventually have to provide, or what the ultimate cost to taxpayers might be.

The companies are likely to need tens of billions of dollars over the next year, but the ultimate cost to taxpayers will largely depend on how fast the housing and mortgage markets recover.

Fannie and Freddie have each agreed to issue $1 billion of senior preferred stock to the United States; it will pay an annual interest rate of at least 10 percent. In return, the government is committing up to $100 billion to each company to cover future losses. The government also receives warrants that would allow it to buy up to 80 percent of each company’s common stock at a nominal price, or less than $1 a share.

Beginning in 2010, the companies must also pay the Treasury a quarterly fee — the amount to be determined — for any financial support provided under the agreement.

Standard & Poor’s, the bond rating agency, said Sunday that the government’s AAA/A-1+ sovereign credit rating would not be affected by the takeover.

Mr. Paulson’s plan begins with a pledge to provide additional cash by buying a new series of preferred shares that would offer dividends and be senior to both the existing preferred shares and the common stock that investors already hold.

The two companies would be allowed to “modestly increase” the size of their existing investment portfolios until the end of 2009, which means they will be allowed to use some of their new taxpayer-supplied capital to buy and hold new mortgages in investment portfolios.

But in a strong indication of Mr. Paulson’s long-term desire to wind down the companies’ portfolios, drastically shrink the role of both Fannie and Freddie and perhaps eliminate their unique status altogether, the plan calls for the companies to start reducing their investment portfolios by 10 percent a year, beginning in 2010.

The investment portfolios now total just over $1.4 trillion, and the plan calls for that to eventually shrink to $250 billion each, or $500 billion total.

“Government support needs to be either explicit or nonexistent, and structured to resolve the conflict between public and private purposes,” Mr. Paulson said. “We will make a grave error if we don’t use this time out to permanently address the structural issues presented by the G.S.E.’s,” he added, a reference to the companies as government-sponsored enterprises.

Critics have long argued that Fannie and Freddie were taking advantage of the widespread assumption that the federal government would bail them out if they got into trouble. Administration officials as well as the Federal Reserve have argued that the two companies used those implicit guarantees to borrow money at below-market rates and lend money at above-market returns, and that they had become what amounted to gigantic hedge funds operating with only a sliver of capital to protect them from unexpected surprises.

Continued in article

IN OTHER words, foreseeing that wealthy individuals would be reluctant to lend their money to the poor as the seventh year approached, the Bible commanded them to lend it anyway. Yet Hillel, seeing that the wealthy were disregarding this injunction and depriving the poor of badly needed loans, changed the biblical law to ensure that money would be lent by providing a way of recovering it.This was a watershed in the evolution of Judaism. The biblical law of debt-cancellation is motivated by a deep concern, which runs through the Mosaic code (also see Halakhah) and the prophets, for the poor, who are to be periodically forgiven by their creditors in order to prevent their becoming hopelessly mired in debt. One could not imagine a more Utopian piece of social legislation. But this, as Hillel the Elder realized, was precisely the problem with it: the regulation was having the paradoxical consequence of only making life for the poor harder by preventing them from borrowing at all.
Herbert Gintis, Commentary, Jul/Aug2008, Vol. 126 Issue 1, pp. 4-6

Bob Jensen's threads on financial scandals and regulation are at

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.
Oscar Wilde

"The Objective of Education is Learning, Not Teaching (audio version available)," University of Pennsylvania's Knowledge@Wharton, August 20, 2008 ---;jsessionid=9a30b5674a8d333e4d18?articleid=2032

In their book, Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track, authors Russell L. Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg point out that today's education system is seriously flawed -- it focuses on teaching rather than learning. "Why should children -- or adults -- be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can?" the authors ask in the following excerpt from the book. "Why doesn't education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?"

"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught."
   -- Oscar Wilde

Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without its being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant.

In most schools, memorization is mistaken for learning. Most of what is remembered is remembered only for a short time, but then is quickly forgotten. (How many remember how to take a square root or ever have a need to?) Furthermore, even young children are aware of the fact that most of what is expected of them in school can better be done by computers, recording machines, cameras, and so on. They are treated as poor surrogates for such machines and instruments. Why should children -- or adults, for that matter -- be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can? Why doesn't education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?

When those who have taught others are asked who in the classes learned most, virtually all of them say, "The teacher." It is apparent to those who have taught that teaching is a better way to learn than being taught. Teaching enables the teacher to discover what one thinks about the subject being taught. Schools are upside down: Students should be teaching and faculty learning.

After lecturing to undergraduates at a major university, I was accosted by a student who had attended the lecture. After some complimentary remarks, he asked, "How long ago did you teach your first class?"

I responded, "In September of 1941."

"Wow!" The student said. "You mean to say you have been teaching for more than 60 years?"


"When did you last teach a course in a subject that existed when you were a student?"

This difficult question required some thought. After a pause, I said, "September of 1951."

"Wow! You mean to say that everything you have taught in more than 50 years was not taught to you; you had to learn on your own?"


"You must be a pretty good learner."

I modestly agreed.

The student then said, "What a shame you're not that good a teacher."

The student had it right; what most faculty members are good at, if anything, is learning rather than teaching. Recall that in the one-room schoolhouse, students taught students. The teacher served as a guide and a resource but not as one who force-fed content into students' minds.

Ways of Learning

There are many different ways of learning; teaching is only one of them. We learn a great deal on our own, in independent study or play. We learn a great deal interacting with others informally -- sharing what we are learning with others and vice versa. We learn a great deal by doing, through trial and error. Long before there were schools as we know them, there was apprenticeship -- learning how to do something by trying it under the guidance of one who knows how. For example, one can learn more architecture by having to design and build one's own house than by taking any number of courses on the subject. When physicians are asked whether they leaned more in classes or during their internship, without exception they answer, "Internship."

In the educational process, students should be offered a wide variety of ways to learn, among which they could choose or with which they could experiment. They do not have to learn different things the same way. They should learn at a very early stage of "schooling" that learning how to learn is largely their responsibility -- with the help they seek but that is not imposed on them.

The objective of education is learning, not teaching.

There are two ways that teaching is a powerful tool of learning. Let's abandon for the moment the loaded word teaching, which is unfortunately all too closely linked to the notion of "talking at" or "lecturing," and use instead the rather awkward phrase explaining something to someone else who wants to find out about it. One aspect of explaining something is getting yourself up to snuff on whatever it is that you are trying to explain. I can't very well explain to you how Newton accounted for planetary motion if I haven't boned up on my Newtonian mechanics first. This is a problem we all face all the time, when we are expected to explain something. (Wife asks, "How do we get to Valley Forge from home?" And husband, who does not want to admit he has no idea at all, excuses himself to go to the bathroom; he quickly Googles Mapquest to find out.) This is one sense in which the one who explains learns the most, because the person to whom the explanation is made can afford to forget the explanation promptly in most cases; but the explainers will find it sticking in their minds a lot longer, because they struggled to gain an understanding in the first place in a form clear enough to explain.

The second aspect of explaining something that leaves the explainer more enriched, and with a much deeper understanding of the subject, is this: To satisfy the person being addressed, to the point where that person can nod his head and say, "Ah, yes, now I understand!" explainers must not only get the matter to fit comfortably into their own worldview, into their own personal frame of reference for understanding the world around them, they also have to figure out how to link their frame of reference to the worldview of the person receiving the explanation, so that the explanation can make sense to that person, too. This involves an intense effort on the part of the explainer to get into the other person's mind, so to speak, and that exercise is at the heart of learning in general. For, by practicing repeatedly how to create links between my mind and another's, I am reaching the very core of the art of learning from the ambient culture. Without that skill, I can only learn from direct experience; with that skill, I can learn from the experience of the whole world. Thus, whenever I struggle to explain something to someone else, and succeed in doing so, I am advancing my ability to learn from others, too.

Learning through Explanation

This aspect of learning through explanation has been overlooked by most commentators. And that is a shame, because both aspects of learning are what makes the age mixing that takes place in the world at large such a valuable educational tool. Younger kids are always seeking answers from older kids -- sometimes just slightly older kids (the seven-year old tapping the presumed life wisdom of the so-much-more-experienced nine year old), often much older kids. The older kids love it, and their abilities are exercised mightily in these interactions. They have to figure out what it is that they understand about the question being raised, and they have to figure out how to make their understanding comprehensible to the younger kids. The same process occurs over and over again in the world at large; this is why it is so important to keep communities multi-aged, and why it is so destructive to learning, and to the development of culture in general, to segregate certain ages (children, old people) from others.

Continued in article

 Jensen Comment

“Silents” were born 1925-1942

“Boomers” were born 1943-1960

“Mellennials” were born 1961-2002

Because I scan the latest AAA Commons comments, I learned about a slide show by Cathleen Burns that’s available at


session title:

Millennials ---


Cathleen Burns

University of Colorado at Boulder

presenter comments:

These Millennial slides include hyperlinks to the Kansas State video on Millennials' behavior, rubrics, NSSE, Educause, and information literacy standards. 

classroom presentation:

Millennials.ppt (1.8MB)

The study has various links to education research into learning differences in these categories.

The AAA Commons is at

Bob Jensen’s threads on the Millennial dark side of distance education and education technology are at

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment, learning, and technology in education are at

In particular note the document on assessment ---

Bob Jensen's threads on memory and metacognition are at

Where can you find one of the best definitions of hedge funds and summaries of alternative hedge fund strategies?

Where else than Wikipedia ---

Bob Jensen's rather puny set of threads in comparison is under the H-terms at

The CAlCPA Tax Listserv

September 4, 2008 message from Scott Bonacker []
Scott has been a long-time contributor to the AECM listserv (he's a techie as well as a practicing CPA)

I found another listserve that is exceptional -

CalCPA maintains  and they let almost anyone join it.
Jim Counts, CPA is moderator.

There are several highly capable people that make frequent answers to tax questions posted there, and the answers are often in depth.


Bob Jensen's threads on blogs and listservs are at

The investigation revealed that 91 percent of Harvard's students graduated cum laude.
See below.

"Just Say 'A': Grade Inflation Undergoes Reality Check:  The notion of a decline in standards draws crusaders and skeptics," by Thomas Bartlett and Paula Wasley, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 5, 2008 ---

Does Florida State University have a grade-inflation problem?

The numbers are certainly suspicious. A decade ago, only 19 percent of the students who took an oceanography class earned A's. Last fall it was 57 percent.

Or take mathematics. Ten years ago, 27 percent of math students at Florida State failed. Last fall it was 10 percent. With a few exceptions, the same trend holds in other departments.

But what does that mean? At the provost's request, a committee of deans is trying to figure out why grades have gone up and what, if anything, should be done about it.

Grade inflation is among the oldest and thorniest problems in higher education. In 1894 a committee at Harvard University reported that A's and B's were awarded "too readily." But after more than a century of fulmination, there is little agreement on the cause or how to fix it.

There is even contentious debate about whether the phenomenon of grade inflation exists at all. It is the question at the center of a new collection of essays, Grade Inflation: Academic Standards in Higher Education (State University of New York Press).

Those who believe that grade inflation exists say that when colleges do try to hold grades in check or make professors accountable, they usually fail.

Among the contributors to the new volume is Mary Biggs, an English professor at the College of New Jersey, who sees little hope for those trying to stem the tide.

"Once grade inflation has taken hold," she says, "it develops its own constituencies and acquires a heavy weight and powerful momentum of its own."

No Consensus

Those who see grade inflation as a serious concern often have a hard time getting taken seriously. In part that is because not everyone is convinced that grade inflation actually exists — or that it's necessarily such a bad thing.

Among the agnostics is Maureen A. McCarthy, a professor of psychology at Kennesaw State University, who recently participated in a debate on the topic at a conference sponsored by the American Psychological Association. While it may be true that college grades have generally trended northward in the past 20 years, she points out, so have scores on more "objective" forms of assessment, like the SAT and IQ tests.

Today's students may legitimately be achieving more than their parents' generation, she argues. "So in that sense, do we even have grade inflation? I'm not certain."

Still, many find the numbers on grade inflation, like those at Florida State, hard to ignore. And evidence such as the exposé published by The Boston Globe in 2001 on Harvard University's grading practices add more ballast to the argument that grade inflation is a serious problem. The investigation revealed that 91 percent of Harvard's students graduated cum laude. (The university has since placed a limit on the number of seniors eligible for Latin honors.)

While complaints about grade inflation date back more than a century, according to Ms. Biggs, lax grading and slipping standards were much-discussed in the 1960s, when grades began to rise noticeably. That's when critics coined the term "grade inflation."

Scholars of the phenomenon also point to other reasons that it not only exists, but is so powerful. A reputation for giving low grades creates problems in recruitment and retention. In addition, because grading is considered part of a professor's academic freedom, regulating the distribution of A's and B's can be tricky.

For faculty members, the pressure to grade generously comes not only from anxious students and "helicopter" parents, but also from promotion-and-tenure committees that look carefully at end-of-term student evaluations.

"It's easier to be a high grader," says Ms. Biggs. "You can write that A or B, and you don't have to defend it. You don't have students complaining or crying in your office. You don't get many low student evaluations. The amount of time that is eaten up by very rigorous grading and dealing with student complaints is time you could be spending on your own research."

Leaders Needed

Could those reasons account for Florida State's rising grades? Sally McRorie, dean of the College of Visual Artists there, leads the committee that is looking into the issue. The group plans to quiz grade-inflation experts and talk to professors and department chairmen. "There are a lot of factors at play," she says.

Among them are the Bright Futures scholarships. Most Florida State students receive some money from the lottery-supported program, which requires them to maintain a certain grade-point average, though it varies depending on the amount of the scholarship. It's no secret that students often beg professors for better grades, citing the possible loss of their scholarships.

If Florida State is serious about tackling grade inflation, observers say, the university will need strong leadership in doing so. And sometimes even that isn't enough.

In 2006, Hank Brown, then president of the University of Colorado, waged a public campaign against grade inflation. Calling it a high priority of his administration, he proposed adding class rank to transcripts to give employers a better sense of students' achievements.

The top-down policy proposal was unpopular with faculty members, however, and in the end the regulation of grades was left up to individual colleges and departments.

The flagship campus's College of Arts & Sciences, for example, chose to promote "academic rigor" through other measures, such as disseminating data on grade distribution and working to standardize teaching practices among sections of large lecture classes, says the provost, Philip P. DiStefano.

These efforts have had modest success in reining in grades, he says: The college has brought down its grades five-hundredths of a percentage point, from an average of 2.99, in 2004, to 2.94, in 2007.

Move to the Median

Cornell University has tried something similar. In 1996 officials there decided to make median grades for each class available on the university's Web site. The aim was to make grades more meaningful by putting them in context and thus preventing grade inflation.

But the plan seems to have backfired, according to a recent paper by three Cornell professors. Students, not surprisingly, tended to choose classes with higher median grades. The scholars also found that overall grades at Cornell have risen since the information was made public.

"The hope was that this would encourage students to go into tougher classes because they would be recognized for taking them," says Talia Bar, an assistant professor of economics and one of the paper's authors. "We're not seeing that effect."

Some faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill think the cure for grade inflation may be a mathematical formula.

Spurred by a report in 2000 that showed a steady rise in grades at Chapel Hill, a faculty committee proposed a GPA alternative called the Achievement Index, a weighted class-ranking system that measures a student's academic performance relative to those of classmates.

Andrew J. Perrin, a professor of sociology who is one of the system's backers, likens the index to the "strength of schedule" system used in basketball to compare teams from different leagues on the basis of wins and losses against common opponents. Similarly, he says, the Achievement Index formula takes into account not only how a student performs vis-à-vis others in the course section, but also how those classmates fare in all of their courses.

The index is a resurrected version of a 1997 proposal by a Duke University statistician, Valen E. Johnson, who found that positive student evaluations correlated with lenient grading. The algorithm he devised was intended to neutralize differences in professors' grading practices and remove incentives for students to choose easier courses to inflate their GPA's.

Duke's faculty rejected a proposal to use Mr. Johnson's formula in lieu of the GPA a decade ago. Proponents of the weighted class-ranking system at Chapel Hill have been only marginally more successful. In 2007 a plan to put Achievement Index information on students' transcripts alongside GPA's, and to use the formula to determine student honors, was narrowly voted down by the faculty council.

Some students objected that the index would stoke competition. But the main problem, faculty members felt, was that the solution was just too complicated. Grade-point averages are intuitive and easy to calculate. The Achievement Index requires advanced math and can be computed only with full access to the registrar's data. "The biggest concern was that this was a black box," says Mr. Perrin, "and that we didn't really understand what it would do."

Still, the sociologist is hopeful that he and his colleagues will get the go-ahead from Chapel Hill administrators to run a pilot version of the Achievement Index. Under the revised plan, index information won't appear on transcripts, but students who log onto the registrar's site to check their end-of-term grades will also be able to see their index-based rankings. Mr. Perrin hopes that distributing the Achievement Index results will help both faculty members and administrators understand how it works and convince students that it's a fairer assessment measurement than the straightforward grade-point average ranking.

Formula for Success?

Perhaps the most successful attempt to combat grade inflation has been at Princeton University, which was singled out as one of the worst Ivy League offenders in this regard. In the fall of 2004, Princeton approved a policy of grading expectations.

It's simple enough: All departments are expected to keep the number of A's down to 35 percent. In any one class, of course, that number might be considerably higher (or lower), but the idea is that the expectation will create consistency across departments.

The idea seems to be working. From 2004 to 2007, the percentage of A's in undergraduate courses was 41 percent, down from 47 percent during the previous three years. Princeton isn't hitting its target yet, but it's getting closer.

All of which pleases Nancy W. Malkiel, dean of the college at Princeton. "We think it's really important to use grades to signal to students the difference between their very best work and their good work," she says. "Otherwise how do they know how to stretch themselves if they don't have clear signals?"

Whether such guidelines would work at a university like Florida State is uncertain. Deans there are still trying to determine whether they have a problem and, if so, what's causing it.

According to Joseph A. Travis, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, officials are determined to do something — they're just not sure what. "Things like this creep up on you," he says. "No one's sanguine about it. No one is saying 'Oh, yeah, this is fine.'"

September 2, 2008 reply from Richard C. Sansing [Richard.C.Sansing@TUCK.DARTMOUTH.EDU]

--- David Albrecht wrote:

Where, oh where, has accepting personal responsibility gone?

--- end of quote ---
This reminds me of one of my favorite Doonesbury cartoons. A professor is talking to the university president, whose last name is King.

Professor: King, the world you and I grew up in his crumbling. Students were once asked to take responsibility for their own performance. But today, if a student fails a course, it's OUR fault. That moment of accountability-- bringing home a report card--is not as we knew it, old friend.

Last panel is of a child showing his report card to his father.

Dad: Son, I'm very, VERY disappointed in your teacher.

Son: Me too, Dad.

Richard C. Sansing
Professor of Accounting
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth 100 Tuck Hall Hanover, NH 03755


Bob Jensen's threads on grade inflation are at

Hard Copy versus Electronic Textbooks

September 1, 2008 message from Steve Doster [sdoster@SHAWNEE.EDU]

I’ve considered having my students purchase electronic versions of textbooks, but I think even with a laptop the net cost of electronic texts probably exceeds conventional textbooks for at least 3 reasons.

· Students often purchase used textbooks.

· Many students resell their used textbooks upon completion of the course.

· Printing out hard copy of selected portions of the text, which most students will probably do at one time or another, adds toner and paper costs.


September 2, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Steve,

I agree with every one of your points. As an instructor, however, I would also consider the following:

Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at

Free Electronic Literature ---

"How Cloud Computing Is Changing the World:  A major shift in the way companies obtain software and computing capacity is under way as more companies tap into Web-based applications," Business Week, August 4, 2008 --- 

At first, just a handful of employees at Sanmina-SCI (SANM) began using Google Apps (GOOG) for tasks like e-mail, document creation, and appointment scheduling. Now, just six months later, almost 1,000 employees of the electronics manufacturing company go online to use Google Apps in place of the comparable Microsoft (MSFT) tools. "We have project teams working on a global basis and to help them collaborate effectively, we use Google Apps," says Manesh Patel, chief information officer of Sanmina-SCI, a company with $10.7 billion in annual revenue. In the next three years, the number of Google Apps users may rise to 10,000, or about 25% of the total, Patel estimates.

San Jose (Calif.)-based Sanmina and Google are at the forefront of a fundamental shift in the way companies obtain software and computing capacity. A host of providers including Amazon (AMZN), (CRM), IBM (IBM), Oracle (ORCL), and Microsoft are helping corporate clients use the Internet to tap into everything from extra server space to software that helps manage customer relationships. Assigning these computing tasks to some remote location—rather than, say, a desktop computer, handheld machine, or a company's own servers—is referred to collectively as cloud computing (BusinessWeek, 4/24/08), and it's catching on across Corporate America.

The term "cloud computing" encompasses many areas of tech, including software as a service, a software distribution method pioneered by about a decade ago. It also includes newer avenues such as hardware as a service, a way to order storage and server capacity on demand from Amazon and others. What all these cloud computing services have in common, though, is that they're all delivered over the Internet, on demand, from massive data centers.

A Sea Change in Computing Some analysts say cloud computing represents a sea change in the way computing is done in corporations. Merrill Lynch (MER) estimates that within the next five years, the annual global market for cloud computing will surge to $95 billion. In a May 2008 report, Merrill Lynch estimated that 12% of the worldwide software market would go to the cloud in that period.

Those vendors that can adjust their product lines to meet the needs of large cloud computing providers stand to profit. Companies like IBM, Dell (DELL), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), for instance, are moving aggressively in this direction. On Aug. 1, IBM said it would spend $360 million to build a cloud computing data center in Research Triangle Park, N.C., bringing to nine its total of cloud computing centers worldwide. Dell is also targeting this market. The computer marker supplies products to some of the largest cloud computing providers and Web 2.0 companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Yahoo (YHOO). "We created a whole new business just to build custom products for those customers," Dell CEO Michael Dell says.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on cloud computing are at

University (Definition and History) ---

Ten Largest Universities in the United States

From the Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac Issue 2008-9, Page 17:

Ten Largest U.S. Universities in the Fall of 2006 (Enrollments)
Some of the universities below have more students on a system-wide basis

University of Phoenix (online campus)
Ohio State University
Miami Dade College
Arizona State University at Tempe
University of Florida


University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
University of Texas at Austin
University of Central Florida
Michigan State University
Texas A&M at College Station


Paul Krause forwarded a Wikipedia link that gives a somewhat different ranking for 2007 ---

This list of largest United States higher education institutions by enrollment includes only individual four-year campuses, not four-year universities. Universities can have multiple campuses with a single administration. Enrollment numbers listed are the sum of undergraduate and graduate students at a single campus as of the 21st day of the academic year. These numbers should match the enrollment numbers that are reported to the US Department of Education as part of the Common Data Set program.
Top 10 as of Fall 2007
Ranking University Location Enrollment
1 The Ohio State University (Columbus campus) Columbus, Ohio 52,586
2 University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 51,913
3 Arizona State University (Tempe campus) Tempe, Arizona 51,481
4 University of Minnesota (Twin Cities campus) Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota 50,880
5 The University of Texas at Austin a[›] Austin, Texas 50,201
6 University of Central Florida a[›] Orlando, Florida 48,699
7 Texas A&M University a[›] College Station, Texas 46,542
8 Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan 46,045
9 The Pennsylvania State University (University Park campus) University Park, Pennsylvania 43,252
10 University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison, Wisconsin 42,041


Twenty Largest Universities in the World ---
(Note that the data below are system-wide and not necessarily the numbers of enrolled students at one campus)
Explanatory footnotes accompanying each enrollment number are not included in this message.

Rank Institution Location Founded Affiliation Enrollment
1 Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad, Pakistan 1974 Public 1.9 million
2 Indira Gandhi National Open University New Delhi, India 1985 Public 1.8 million
3 Islamic Azad University Tehran, Iran 1982 Private 1.3 million
4 Anadolu University Eskişehir, Turkey 1982 Public 884,081
5 Bangladesh National University Gazipur, Bangladesh 1992 Public 800,000
6 Bangladesh Open University Gazipur, Bangladesh 1992 Public 600,000
7 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Andhra Pradesh, India 1982 Public 450,000
8 State University of New York New York, United States 1948 Public 418,000
9 California State University California, United States 1857 Public 417,000
10 University System of Ohio Ohio, United States 2007 Public 400,000+
11 University of Delhi New Delhi, India 1922 Public 400,000
12 Universitas Terbuka Jakarta, Indonesia 1984 Public 350,000
13 Universidad de Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina 1821 Public 316,050
14 State University System of Florida Florida, United States 1905 Public 301,570 (2008)
15 Osmania University Hyderabad, India 1918 Public 300,000 [
16 Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University Nashik, India 1989 Public 300,000
17 National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico City, Mexico 1551 Public 290,000 (Aug 14th, 2006)
18 Tribhuvan University Kirtipur, Nepal 1959 Public 272,746
19 University of South Africa Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa 1873 Public 250,000
20 Instituto Politecnico Nacional Mexico City, Mexico 1936 Public 229,070

Data are provided for 51 universities  ---

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

Size Matters (Video) ---
Otherwise entitled "Shift Happens"

Free Download Page for Google's Open Source Chrome Web Browser ---

Google's Chrome ---

Video Tutorials on Chrome

"Google Redefines Web Browser:  Chrome Offers New Way To Surf Net, as Microsoft Beefs Up Internet Explorer," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal,  September 2, 2008; Page D1 ---

Google has introduced a new Web browser, called Chrome, aimed at wresting dominance of the browser market from Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The move takes the Google-Microsoft rivalry to a whole new level. If Google succeeds, it will be a big deal, with major ramifications for the future of the Web.

But just how good is Chrome? How does it differ from IE and from less popular, but still important, browsers like Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari?

I've been testing Chrome for about a week, trying out all its features and using it side by side with Microsoft's latest iteration of IE, which came out just last week.

My verdict: Chrome is a smart, innovative browser that, in many common scenarios, will make using the Web faster, easier and less frustrating. But this first version -- which is just a beta, or test, release -- is rough around the edges and lacks some common browser features Google plans to add later. These omissions include a way to manage bookmarks, a command for emailing links and pages directly from the browser, and even a progress bar to show how much of a Web page has loaded.

Chrome's interface has some bold changes from the standard browser design. These new features enhance the Web experience, but they will require some adjustment on the part of users. For instance, Chrome does away with most menus and toolbar icons to give maximum screen space for the Web pages themselves. Also, Google has merged the address bar, where you type in Web addresses, with the search box, where you type in search terms. This unified feature is called the Omnibox.

One striking difference in Chrome is how it handles tabs, which display a single Web page. In Chrome, each tab behaves as a separate browser. The bookmarks bar, Omnibox, menus and toolbar icons are located inside the tab, rather than atop the entire browser. The tabs appear at the top of the computer screen. Chrome also groups related tabs. If you open a new tab from a link in a page that's already open, that new tab appears next to the originating page, rather than at the end of the row of tabs.

Despite Google's claims that Chrome is fast, it was notably slower in my tests at the common task of launching Web pages than either Firefox or Safari. However, it proved faster than the latest version of IE -- also a beta version -- called IE8.

Meanwhile, Microsoft hasn't been sitting still. The second beta version of IE8 is the best edition of Internet Explorer in years. It is packed with new features of its own, some of which are similar to those in Chrome, and some of which, in my view, top Chrome's features.

For example, while IE8 also groups related tabs, it assigns a different color to each such tab group and allows you to close them all with one click. It has a "smart" address box of its own, that drops down a list of suggestions as you type, though it retains a separate search box.

IE8 also has breakthrough privacy features that exceed Chrome's, and includes a new technology called Accelerators, which allows you to take rapid action on any selected word or phrase on a Web page, such as generating a map for a place name, without switching to a new page.

As they develop, each of these browsers has a good chance of besting Firefox 3.0, which I have regarded as the best Web browser for Windows, the only operating system on which Chrome currently runs. But they will have to get faster at loading pages. And, to best Firefox on the Macintosh, Google will have to make good on its promise to produce a Mac version of Chrome, something it says it will do in the coming months. Microsoft has no plans to produce a Mac version of IE8.

Chrome and IE8 are far more advanced than Apple's Safari. Safari is speedy on both Mac and Windows platforms, but lacks many of the key intelligent features of its newer Google and Microsoft rivals.

Why is Google igniting a new browser war? There are two main reasons, and both involve competing with Microsoft. First, the search giant fears that because its search engine and other major products depend on the browser, Microsoft -- with its rival online products -- might be able to gain an advantage by altering the design of IE, which has roughly a 75% market share.

Second, and more important, Google sees the Web as a platform for the software programs, or applications, that currently run directly on computer operating systems, notably Microsoft's Windows. It says current browsers lack the underlying architecture to enable future, more powerful Web applications that will rely more heavily on a common Web programming language called JavaScript. Chrome was designed to be the world's speediest browser at handling JavaScript.

That move might one day make Chrome a sort of online operating system that competes with Windows. "Think of Chrome as more than a simple Web browser," Google declares. "It's a platform for running Web applications."

I tested Chrome, and IE8, on a plain-vanilla Lenovo ThinkPad laptop running Windows XP, and equipped with a modest processor and one gigabyte of memory.

To gauge Chrome's speed at loading Web pages, I launched two large groups of typical Web pages simultaneously, each site opening in its own tab. One group included 15 sports sites, the second 19 news sites. In both tests, Chrome's speed fell in the middle, at 35 and 44 seconds, respectively. IE8 was slower, taking 49 and 75 seconds to open the two groups of sites. But Firefox and Safari were much faster, notching identical speeds of 19 seconds for the 15 sites and 28 seconds for the 19 sites.

Google claims that future, more sophisticated Web applications relying more heavily on JavaScript than today's sites do would run faster on Chrome. Of course, I couldn't test any claim about future scenarios, but I did run Chrome on several JavaScript test sites, used by developers. It handily beat the other browsers. However, Google doesn't claim users would see much difference on current Web application sites.

I also tested Chrome's compatibility with scores of common Web sites. In general, it did well, rendering the sites properly. But I ran into problems with video. Some video sites refused to recognize Chrome, because its development has been a secret. On others, like Major League Baseball's site, videos mostly played properly, but sometimes didn't.

IE8 also has some compatibility issues, for different reasons. It's the first version of Internet Explorer to hew closely to Web standards. Earlier versions used some nonstandard ways of rendering Web sites, prompting some site designers to adopt techniques that made their pages work in IE, but look odd in Firefox and Safari. Now, ironically, these pages also look strange in IE8. So Microsoft was forced to build in a special Compatibility View button that users must click to see the sites properly.

Chrome is built on three core design principles. The first is its spare user interface: just two menus and a handful of toolbar icons. IE introduced a similar approach in its version 7, but with a difference. Microsoft allows users to restore a traditional menu bar; Google doesn't. The only toolbar icon you can add in Chrome is a Home button.

Continued in article

Also see and listen to the NPR review ---

Negative Review from PhysOrg ---

From the Scout Report on September 5. 2008

Camino 1.6.3 --- 

In Spanish, the word "camino" means "path" or "way", and over the past few years the Camino web browser has carved out its own "path" throughout the world of Mac users. This latest version of Camino features a newly redesigned interface that is clean and visually cohesive. Additionally, the browser features automated RSS feed detection and an embedded dynamic spell check feature. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4, or 10.5.

But it ain't about how hard you hit.
It's about how hard you can get hit and keep movin' forward.
It's about how much you can take and keep movin' forward.
That's how winning is done!

From Rocky ---
Jim Carey's version ---

But after your carefully-crafted research manuscript is rejected for publication don't "keep movin' forward" to the pub."
FREAK Shots: Is Beer Bad for Science?
Freakonomics Blog, The New York Times, August 19, 2008 ---

The more beer scientists drink, the less likely they are to have a paper published or cited, according to a new study by Thomas Grim, an ornithologist at Palacky University, Czech Republic.

Grim surveyed the behavior of Czech scientists and found a correlation between amount of beer consumed and papers published.

But the Czech Republic may just be an strange exception, points out a New York Times article; it beats Ireland as having the highest per capita rate of beer consumption in the world.

Or maybe, suggests ornithologist Mike Webster: “Those with poor publication records are drowning their sorrows.”

It probably doesn’t matter if you’re drinking Pabst or Vielle Bon Secours the study didn’t mention the price of the beer making a difference.

Another study in Denmark (which ranks eighth on the beer consumption list) showed a correlation between high I.Q. and wine drinkers — and low I.Q. and beer drinkers.

Maybe Freakonomics is better read at a wine bar than a pub.

Jensen Plea
John Kenneth Galbraith said that Ireland is the land of poets and not one single economist. Now we have a clue as to why.

August 28, 2008 message from Carolyn Kotlas []


"Much has been written about the way in which the [Net-Generation] learner acquires and processes information. Coming of age in an environment saturated by technology, where the digital world interacts more and more seamlessly with the "real" world, means that these students represent the first generation of virtual learners--learners accustomed to seeking and building knowledge in a technology-enhanced environment. When these learners seek information, they are more likely to look for it online than anywhere else since this is the environment with which they are most familiar. Are educators rising to the challenge of teaching these students? Some evidence suggests that they are not."

In "Why Professor Johnny Can't Read: Understanding the Net Generation's Texts" (INNOVATE, vol. 4,no. 6, August/September 2008), Mark Mabrito and Rebecca Medley of Purdue University Calumet discuss the difference in literacy skills between the current generation of college students and the faculty who teach them. They describe the differences between the two groups as "not a generation gap but an information processing gap" that can be bridged by faculty experiencing the digital world from the students' perspectives.

The paper is available online at

Registration is required to access articles; registration is free.

Innovate: Journal of Online Education [ISSN 1552-3233], an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal, is published bimonthly by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

The journal focuses on the creative use of information technology (IT) to enhance educational processes in academic, commercial, and governmental settings. For more information, contact James L. Morrison, Editor-in-Chief; email:;



"To succeed in the internet age, libraries must be aware of which traditional roles are no longer needed and which potential roles would be valued, and strategically shift their service offerings to maximize their value to local users."

Since 2000, Ithaka has conducted surveys to understand how new technologies are affecting the attitudes and behaviors of faculty in higher education. In 2006, Ithaka expanded its study by a similar survey of librarians. The results, which compare data from 2000, 2003, and 2006, are now available in "Ithaka's 2006 Studies of Key Stakeholders in the Digital Transformation in Higher Education" (by Ross Housewright and Roger Schonfeld, August 18, 2008).

Some of the findings include:

-- "[W]hile [faculty] value the library, they perceive themselves to be decreasingly dependent on the library for their research and teaching and they anticipate that dependence to continue to decline in the future."

-- "[T]he vast majority of faculty view the role that librarians play as just as important as it has been in the past."

-- While the library's role as purchaser and preserver of information remains important for faculty, the importance of its role of "gateway for locating information" is declining. However, librarians surveyed list this role as very important.

-- "[F]aculty members are growing somewhat less aware of the library's role in providing the tools and services they use in the virtual environment."

-- As libraries move from print to digital collections, "[n]either faculty members nor librarians are enthusiastic to see existing hard-copy collections discarded, with the faculty much less enthusiastic than the librarians. . . ."

The paper is available online at

Ithaka is an independent not-for-profit organization with a mission to accelerate the productive uses of information technologies for the benefit of higher education worldwide. "We work in close collaboration with JSTOR ( and ARTstor (, and we are currently incubating three

initiatives: Aluka (, a digital library of scholarly resources from and about the developing world; NITLE (, a collaborative effort to promote emerging technologies in liberal arts contexts; and Portico (, a permanent archive of electronic scholarly journals." For more information about Ithaka, go to



As more scholars use the Web to disseminate their publications, they are faced with the problem of making their work stand out in the vast sea of online documents. In "Increasing Impact of Scholarly Journal

Articles: Practical Strategies Librarians Can Share" (E-JASL, vol. 9, no. 1, Spring 2008), Laura Bowering Mullen describes how academic librarians can help faculty increase the visibility of their scholarly articles by providing advice in the areas of self-archiving, citation analysis, and open-access publishing. Mullen provides a number of suggested strategies that scholars, in partnership with librarians, can use to increase the impact of their writings.

The paper is available online at

E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship [ISSN 1704-8532] is an independent, professional, refereed electronic journal dedicated to advancing knowledge and research in the areas of academic and special librarianship. E-JASL is published by the Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication (ICAAP), Athabasca, Canada. For more information, contact: Paul Haschak, Executive Editor, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL, USA; email: ;



History and Future of Peer Review

"Peer reviewing: privilege and responsibility," by Jane Johnston and Nigel Krauth, Griffith University, April 2008 ---

Peer review is a central tenet in research across all disciplines. It is a key feature in monitoring the advance of knowledge, especially in academic publishing. This article investigates the development of peer review from the seventeenth century to the present, and analyses significant aspects of the process. It also attempts to clarify some criticisms and make suggestions about the role of peer review in the current climate.


The Rudd government has announced a new system for recognition and quantification of research in Australian universities. The ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) system is slated to replace the struggling Research Quality Framework (RQF) of the previous Howard government. Subject to the Australian Research Council approval of a consultation document, the ERA proposal will be circulated to universities and research stakeholders for comment. In this context, it is timely to consider one of the central tenets of the research process: peer reviewing.


Historical development of the peer review process

The peer review process has its genesis in scientific journals. Henry Oldenburg, the founding editor of the pioneering British scientific journal The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society established in 1665, is recognised as the earliest journal editor to articulate the need for peer review: 'Oldenburg wrote of grappling with the vexing problems of ensuring authors' intellectual property and vetting their contributed papers' (Zuckerman and Merton 1986). Prior to this, secrecy characterised seventeenth-century scientific publishing:

At that time, many scientists sought to keep their work secret so that others could not claim it as their own. Prominent figures of the time, including Isaac Newton, were loathe to convey news of their discoveries for fear that someone else would claim priority - a fear that was frequently realized. (Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy 2005)

Oldenburg's method used the judgement of peers in the Royal Society as a validating mechanism and also as an official record of original authorship. From its inception peer review was used as an instrument to distinguish scientific journals from book publishing, ensuring quality control and standards had been met before publication actually took place (Tobin 2002).

Exactly how peer review further developed appears sketchy. American historian JC Burnham has found:

Practically no historical accounts of the evolution of peer review exist. Biomedical journals appeared in the 19th century as personal organs, following the model of more general journalism. Journal editors viewed themselves primarily as educators. The practice of editorial peer reviewing did not become general until sometime after World War II. Contrary to common assumption, editorial peer review did not grow out of or interact with grant peer review. Editorial peer review procedures did not spread in an orderly way; they were not developed from editorial boards and passed on from journal to journal. Instead, casual referring out of articles on an individual basis may have occurred at any time, beginning in the early to mid-19th century. Institutionalization of the process, however, took place mostly in the 20th century, either to handle new problems in the numbers of articles submitted or to meet the demands for expert authority and objectivity in an increasingly specialized world. (Burnham 1990)

The development of scientific research was based on several key values within the context of seventeenth-century research. These values made up a system described by Merton as the 'scientific ethos' (see Merton 1949) upon which research was validated. The values - universalism, systematic scepticism, ethical neutrality, communalism and disinterestedness - underpinned this ethos. However, in his article titled 'A dissenting view on the scientific ethos', published in the British Journal of Sociology, Rothman suggested a questioning of these values' strengths, arguing that they are flawed (Rothman 1972). His argument may be summarised thus:

As part of his critique of the scientific ethos, Rothman notes an insightful observation made in a letter to a 1966 edition of the journal Science:

"The work in laboratories is less gay now; the enthusiasm is being misplaced, from acts of discovery to the work of quick publication. The practice of science is becoming less for its own sake than for the advancement of scientists. A slow terror is descending upon us, compounded of fear and pride and envy, of hate and waste and misguided zeal, of lacks of joy and satisfaction; let us stop this before it becomes complete." (Siefevitz cited Rothman 1972: 106)

This perception, made 40 years ago, is still relevant in the competitive, pressurised research environment of the Australian Research Quality Framework (RQF) and the new ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) to follow it. The idea that there has been a shift 'from acts of discovery to the work of quick publication' resonates in the current system that requires researchers annually to publish peer-reviewed pieces as journal articles, book chapters and monographs. Indeed, it has been argued (of scientists) 'without the production of scientific papers, a scientist ceases to be a scientist' (Price cited Lindsey, 1979). Academics in all fields are now subject to the requirement to publish.


Contemporary peer review

Emerging alongside the importance of peer-reviewed publications has been the growth in the importance of the peer reviewer her/himself - the peer who must evaluate, critically review and respond to the work of another. By definition, they too will be a researcher and author, with their own work in the publication cycle. Judson notes of the role: 'although peer review and refereeing seem rational, indispensable, and immutable, the histories demonstrate that they are social constructs of recent date. They are not laws of nature, nor of epistemology. They have changed and evolved' (Judson 1994). They are subject to the pressures of the contexts of the time.

The peer review has changed and evolved yes, but not, it would seem, in any systematic way. Analysts (e.g. Burnham 1990, Tobin 2002) agree that guidelines and processes have emerged ad hoc.

For a component of pivotal importance to the progress of science, journals provide scant guidelines to the reviewers. The confidential and anonymous nature of editorial peer review makes it especially difficult for the novice to learn the skill. (Tobin 2002)

So new academic writers face difficulties in having their work reviewed and in reviewing the work of others particularly because the review process is done in isolation - i.e., it is carried out away from the journal, as a private confidential activity, and then submitted. Compounding this is the pace required within the strictures of the publishing process which comprises: researching, writing, sending for submission, journal editors' screening and identifying the best reviewers, seeking review from reviewer, receiving feedback from reviewer, sending back to the author and quite possibly beginning the cycle again because feedback from the reviewer requires change to the piece.

New reviewers - and new contributors - are faced with an array of challenges, not least of which is their limited writing experience. Putting one's work forward for refereeing is like playing chess with one's ego - advancing one's pawn into the maw of scholarly battle. Busy old-hand reviewers are not necessarily blessed with a generosity of spirit, and may treat pieces harshly. On the other hand, newly engaged referees may find their reports ignored by editors, for reasons of lack of skill. Writing a review, as with receiving one, involves skills of astuteness and nuancing. This is due to the complexity of the academic publishing process and its professed responsibility to the advancement of knowledge.

A very useful article, 'How to review a paper' in Advances in Physiology Education, provides the following etiquette:

The reviewer should write reviews in a collegial, constructive manner. This is especially helpful to new investigators. There is nothing more discouraging to a new investigator (or even to a more seasoned one) than to receive a sarcastic, destructive review … No one likes to have a paper rejected, but a carefully worded review with appropriate suggestions for revision can be very helpful. (Benos et al 2003)

There are many anecdotes to prove this advice often goes unheeded. Take for example the following comment, offered in response to a paper written by a PhD student in a Queensland university on her second attempt at academic publishing: 'The paper serves no purpose'. The comment, along with the rejection in the summary section of the reviewer's form, came complete with a typo that indicated the haste in which the review had been put together and sent. (The PhD student has since become a tenured academic at a leading university and learnt much about how not to peer review from this response.)

But this case begs the question: how closely is reviewers' feedback monitored? If reviewers are tardy in their responses, or worse, nasty and unhelpful, are they cast from the list of a journal's future reviewers? One view is that the online system of internet publication has enhanced the rigour of peer review. Editor of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Martin Tobin notes that the journal has 5,600 reviewers on their database, covering 172 fields of research, with new reviewers regularly added and 'delinquent or superficial reviewers' noted. He adds that the timeline between submission and the first review is 33 days for online peer review and applauds this move to electronic expediency. 'The internet is revolutionising the speed of processing manuscripts … but the bedrock of science has not changed since the 1660's: experiments are converted into science only after the results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal' (Tobin 2002).

In 2005 the developing RQF system in Australia (to be replaced by ERA from 2008) cautiously asserted the importance of peer review in validating research in the academic publishing process:

Universities currently receive block funds from the Australian Government on the basis of their relative positions in performance-driven formulae comprising research income (including competitive grants); research student load/number of student completions; and number of academic (peer reviewed) publications.

However, there is concern that these mechanisms, particularly the latter, do not sufficiently encourage a focus on research quality, including research impact. (Commonwealth of Australia 2005: 7)

This questioning of the peer review process in journals led to the following:

Many metrics used in the assessment of research impact are of course underpinned implicitly by some element of peer judgement. For instance, in the case of a metric like numbers of publications, there would normally be some involvement of peers in assessing a paper/book for publication, although the degree of rigour in the assessment process would vary considerably depending on the nature of the journal/book publisher. An RQF is predicated on the assumption that there is a need to develop a more consistent and comprehensive approach to assessing the quality and impact of research through the development of more sophisticated quality measures for research than currently exists. The Expert Advisory Group believes that a peer review component is fundamental to a robust RQF. (Commonwealth of Australia 2005: 10-11)

We await guidelines for 'a more consistent and comprehensive approach to assessing the quality and impact of research' and 'the development of more sophisticated quality measures for research than currently exists'. In the meantime, we offer the following discussion and make some suggestions regarding the next phases in the development of peer reviewing.


The peer review process

There are four elements that make up the total picture of the peer review process in the contemporary research environment:

1. the researcher/author seeking peer review (Writer)
2. the role of the reviewer (Reviewer)
3. the philosophy of the journal publishing - or rejecting - the research (Journal)
4. the expectations of the discipline for which the paper is written (Discipline).

The writer of the article must go through all the filters - numbers 2 through 4 above - in seeking publication. The journal sets the benchmark for the writer and the reviewer and often reflects the wider community of the discipline, although all three are closely entwined. We will deal with each of these points in an order that identifies the journal (number 3) as a crucial pivot point in the mix.

Journal: The philosophy of the journal
There are many aspects that constitute a journal's philosophy (including how it comes to that philosophy, whether by an elected editorial board, a local managing committee, or the influence of a powerful individual). Key aspects involve:

1. the journal's attitude towards its standards of scholarship
2. its perceived role in its discipline and the nature of that discipline
3. its concern to create debate by inviting various viewpoints in the field, or only to publish a particular school of thought
4. its aggressiveness in the field with regard to other publications, e.g. its priorities regarding its own status and leadership in the discipline
5. its policies regarding its handling of referees/reviewers - their appointment, the use made of their reviews, etc
6. its policies regarding the work of established researchers
7. its concern to foster new researchers
8. its thoroughness in the revisions processes including the amount of editorial assistance given.

Regarding points 1 through 4, it is apparent that most academic journals spring up because an individual or group see 'a gap in the market' with regards to publication coverage of an established discipline or field, or a need to represent a newly-emerging field/discipline. Standards and modus operandi vary according to the priorities or whims of the editors and committees/administrators who run journals. Journals can change their profiles and motivations radically and suddenly, or slowly over time, in accordance with the desires of the personnel who run them. However, many journals establish an individual style, ethos and character - an expectation in the readership - which is difficult to change.

Regarding points 5 through 8, there are matters in the operation of a journal that are significantly the domain of the editors. Editors have noteworthy power in determining how the day-to-day editorial operations of a journal are handled. A look at the journal Hermes provides insights especially regarding points 7 and 8 above.

The journal of language and communication studies Hermes is based in the Aarhus School of Business (ASB) in Denmark. Journal editor Helle V Dam has provided an insightful analysis (Dam 2005) because, she says, the journal focuses on communications/language and also because she wished to raise issues regarding the journal's balance between fostering young researchers while gaining international status and credibility.

Dam explains that Hermes, founded in 1988, was created as a vehicle for the publication of local researchers and young scholars and, while it has grown into an international journal, it has nevertheless maintained its 'local roots' and continued its philosophy of nurturing scholarly development. Significantly, editors had initially been drawn from ASB and reviewers had been local until the journal took a strategic change of direction. In 2005, a policy change was taken to include 'external' referees as well as locals. The rationale for this is explained:

It is quite clear that in the scientific community, blind reviews performed by scholars with no involvement in the journal are considered a sine qua non for a high-quality journal. Still, highly qualified and dedicated internal referees may in principle do their job at least as well as external, independent referees would. Our policy change is therefore admittedly just as much a question of achieving more prestige as it is a question of ensuring higher quality. (Dam 2005)

Nevertheless, the journal remained committed to publishing the work of up-coming researchers, fostering the development of less experienced scholars. The editorial board of Hermes lists three main ambitions:

1. to run an international journal that publishes high-quality research papers;
2. to offer publication space also to young scholars;
3. to offer fast publication. (Dam 2005)

With a policy of 'thorough-reviews-rather-than-immediate-rejection' and three rounds of revisions sometimes being required for inexperienced scholars, the second and third ambitions could be seen to counteract each other. Dam notes that this has been overcome by two strategies:

The philosophy of prioritising the output of young scholars - irrespective of the extra work this may place on the journal and the discipline - is central to the role of some journals, particularly in emerging disciplines where the journal itself is a major contributor to the development and growth of the discipline (e.g. also TEXT in Australia).

Writer: The researcher/author seeking peer review
While some academics are highly skilled at preparing work for peer review, any analysis of the peer review process should also include a focus on the flaws of the inexperienced or rushed researcher seeking review. Dam notes typical weaknesses with manuscripts:

These issues can arise out of hasty submission, laziness, professional pressures to publish, immaturity of the researcher, prematurity of the research write-up, or a mixture of these.

Manuscripts are sometimes sent hastily to a journal, perhaps to meet a deadline, with the writer relying on the astute reviewers to plug the argument gaps, or the editors to fill in from the style guides. Anecdotal evidence supports this contention. However, the reverse is also argued. Gannon says that authors tend to raise the standard of their work knowing it will be scrutinised by another (Gannon 2001).

Both contentions are correct, and can be correct for the same researcher at different times in her/his career. The editors at TEXT have seen every quality of submission from the most perfectly polished and refined academic pieces (which evoked only gasps of praise from the referees) to the high-school level mishmash (so poor, in fact, the work was rejected before being sent for review). Oddly enough, submissions also arrive which are clearly not suitable for the journal - not even dealing with the journal's disciplinary focus - and therefore provide evidence that some writers don't read the journal they submit to.

Having a strong knowledge of the range of articles published by the targeted journal is of prime importance. This not only provides an understanding of the preferred style of the publication, it also leads to avoiding that embarrassing reviewer report which says: 'Previous articles in this journal have already covered this topic'.

Reviewer: The role of the reviewer
The reviewer is engaged to uphold the standards of the journal and further the causes of the discipline in the context of fostering new knowledge and new debate. But, being individuals (and, of course, being academics) no two reviewers have the same methods or the same viewpoint. This is usually a benefit for the reviewing process, and not a drawback.

The reviewer's role is to some extent circumscribed by the philosophy of the journal (as outlined above). Individual reviewers can be selected because the journal editors know these reviewers are likely to agree with each other or with the submission, or on the other hand, because opposing views are sought. Reviewers known for writing tough or aggressive reports might be engaged for particular submissions, while referees with a lighter touch employed on others (e.g. from new researchers). Often in the case of research entering a new area, the reviewers are not fully expert in the matter under scrutiny, and here the reviewer must be equipped to be perceptive and flexible. Some reviewers are ideal for the job of nurturing new ideas, and for providing useful responses in the circumstance; some aren't. Editors often canvass a spectrum of views by sending a submission to two or more very differently-oriented reviewers.

The key role of the reviewer/referee is to interpret and represent the interests of the journal's readership. However, reviewers differ in their responses for individual, political, philosophical, cultural, school of thought and other academic reasons. Klopffer and Heinrich note how, in young, multidisciplinary academic fields such as communications or creative writing - which don't have the decades of experience in publishing enjoyed by the sciences - reviewers may come to opposite conclusions because of the lack of an accumulated archive of research in the field (Klopffer and Heinrich 1999). In older fields, of course, the very massiveness of that archive can create difference in reviewers' interpretations and opinions.

Why do referees referee? Journal editors may sometimes think it an imposition on busy academics' time. But there is an element of being 'ahead of the game' when a referee sees new research at its earliest manifestation. And there is an element of power involved because the privileged reviewer is given an opportunity to have an influence on the new work. Referees are frequently given the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of the discipline.

The combination of privilege and responsibility involved in the peer reviewer's work is not often enough articulated. Reviewers hold in their hands keys to success for all three levels - for the writer, the journal and the discipline. It is important work, not to be taken lightly, especially because a reviewer also lays her/his own reputation on the line in delivering a review.

Discipline: The expectations of the discipline
The development of knowledge requires quality control. Peer review is the system disciplines have established in pursuit of objective quality control. A discipline's advance is reliant on two factors: the quality of its original research and the quality of its critique of that research.

Disciplines are shifting, convoluted arrangements. Expectations within them involve the multitude and range of the expectations of the individuals involved. A good discipline for a researcher to work in is one where open, fair discourse prevails. A discipline should expect that its peer reviewers - along with its researchers and the journals themselves - will cultivate open, fair discourse.

Good journal editors are acutely aware of the positioning of their publication within its discipline; much time is spent orienting and steering a journal in accordance with the discipline's compass points and the winds of change. When editors make decisions they set a course for their journal and for the discipline. Good peer reviewers also need to be aware of the currents, the shoals, and the goals within the discipline.


Anonymity in the process

There are two aspects which set the peer review process apart from more general reviewing such as that done in the popular media. These are:

1. the peer review is an examination of academic researchers by peers who are academic contemporaries (compared with media reviews of filmmakers by journalists, for example);
2. the peer review is anonymous (those in popular media are named, bylined or identifiable).

The second of these aspects is the more contentious. Anonymity is seen as a critical element of peer reviewing: Klopffer and Heinrich, editors of the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment argue that 'the anonymous and strictly confidentially-performed review procedure … is the backbone of this process, and we take care of it with our minds and souls' (Klopffer and Heinrich 1999: 61).

However, this is not a universal point of view, especially in light of changes within the contemporary academic environment which has moved toward openness and transparency: 'Many view the powerful role that reviewers play in scientific publishing with suspicion, and feel that the anonymity of the process is contrary to the current demands for transparency' (Gannon 2001).

Young and upcoming researchers have their own perspective on the process. Writing on behalf of the World Academy of Young Scientists (a forum created under the auspices of UNESCO in 2003), Mainguy, Motamedi and Mietchen (2005) identify problems with single-blind peer reviewing (SBPR) of young researchers. Basing their views on work done by Wenneras (1997), Laband et al (1994), Katz et al (2002) and others, they suggest:

Even though peer review is universally accepted as an essential element of research, considerable debate persists on how to implement it. The vast majority of our members, especially from developing countries, were concerned about the apparent unfairness of the current procedure, a perception that is prone to generate frustration, fear of discrimination, and distrust. We reached a consensus that slight modifications to the current review process would help in getting more objective reviews based on the quality of the research rather than the age, affiliation, gender, or pedigree of the authors.

Single-blind peer review (SBPR), in which the reviewer knows the identity of the author but not vice versa, is the currently accepted practice. Because SBPR can be vulnerable to sexism and nepotism, its ethical foundations have come under criticism; the method is frequently recognized to be biased against new ideas, women, young scientists, career changers, and scholars from less prestigious universities and/or from developing countries … (Mainguy et al 2005)

Mainguy et al propose two means to eliminate bias from the peer-review process: open peer review (OPR) and double-blind peer review (DBPR).

In open peer review, the identities of both authors and reviewers are revealed, affording the authors the ability to identify the reviewers' comments to a person. Even though this might be an equitable strategy to prevent unfair rejections, this process has no safeguard against unfair acceptance of papers - reviewers, and especially newcomers, may feel pressured into accepting a mediocre paper from a more established lab in fear of future reprisals. (Mainguy et al 2005)

As a concept, OPR is as bold as it is fascinating. Although an obvious device, it is not an accepted part of the research publishing ethos for journals or for monographs (where anonymous - and sometimes paid - readers are employed to assess). Academics' general acceptance of the anonymity of the reviewer is surprising in a culture where striving to reveal truths is the principal motivation. Some research journal editors would surmise that revealing the identities of reviewers could lead to bloodshed. Still, there is an unusual contradiction in the veiling of the process which monitors the drive towards unveiling new knowledge.

On the other hand, the Young Scientists also canvass the possibilities of DBPR, a method now prevalent in several disciplines including computer science, philosophy, economics, communications and media studies:

DBPR, in which both the reviewers and the authors remain anonymous to each other, is thought to disentangle the peer-review process from non-scientific factors, thereby presenting an appealing alternative. The a priori case for masking and blinding is strong, and several studies have suggested that articles published in DBPR journals were cited significantly more often than articles published in non-DBPR journals. However, other studies have been less convincing; critics of DBPR argue that it is difficult to hide the identity of the institution, laboratory, and/or authors of a paper from the reviewers, especially in smaller specializations. For instance, in a DBPR policy trial, despite explicit instructions to authors, 34% of prospectively evaluated manuscripts contained hints to unblind the authors, and editors correctly identified the authors or institutions of 25% of the manuscripts. The disconnection between principle and practice is evident, and so far, few journals, and even fewer in biomedical sciences, have implemented DBPR policies. The reasons appear to be partly historical, as journals are used to SBPR, and partly intellectual, as the benefits of DBPR still remain controversial. (Mainguy et al 2005)

In its earlier years, TEXT used SBPR but has moved more recently towards greater use of DBPR. No significant difference in the two techniques has been noticed by the editors, except that with DBPR established scholars are probably given a harder time in terms of their use of punctuation! It goes without saying that the old game of the writer guessing at the identity of the referee is now also played by the referee guessing at the identity of the writer.


The next phases of peer review

It seems that the major critics of the peer review process are those who defined it in first place: the scientists. Linkov et al (2007), scrutinising peer reviewing in medical education for online publication, note that until we have properly defined the objectives of peer review, it will remain almost impossible to assess or improve its effectiveness: 'The research needed to understand the broader effects of peer review poses many methodological problems and would require the cooperation of many parts of the scientific community' (Linkov et al 2007: 250). And Benos et al concede that: 'Very little definitive research into the practice and effectiveness of peer review has been done' (Benos et al 2003).

Continued in article

The Dark Side of Peer Review --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on peer review are at

Research Questions About the Corporate Ratings Game

"How Good Are Commercial Corporate Governance Ratings?," by Bill Snyder, Stanford GSB News, June 2008 ---

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS—A study by Stanford law and business faculty members casts strong doubt upon the value and validity of the ratings of governance advisory firms that compile indexes to evaluate the effectiveness of a publicly held company’s governance practices.

Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing, Sunbeam. The list of major corporations that appeared rock solid—only to founder amid scandal and revelations of accounting manipulation—has grown, and with it so has shareholder concern. In response, a niche industry of corporate watchdog firms has arisen—and prospered.

Governance advisory firms compile indexes that evaluate the effectiveness of a publicly held company’s governance practices. And they claim to be able to predict future performance by performing a detailed analysis encompassing many variables culled from public sources.

Institutional Shareholder Services, or ISS, the best known of the advisory companies, was sold for a reported $45 million in 2001. Five years later, ISS was sold again; this time for $553 million to the RiskMetrics Group. The enormous appreciation in value underscores the importance placed by the investing public on ratings and advisories issued by ISS and its major competitors, including Audit Integrity, Governance Metrics International (GMI), and The Corporate Library (TCL).

But a study by faculty at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford questions the value of the ratings of all four firms. “Everyone would agree that corporate governance is a good thing. But can you measure it without even talking to the companies being rated?” asked David Larcker, codirector of the Rock Center and the Business School’s James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting and one of the authors. “There’s an industry out there that claims you can. But for the most part, we found only a tenuous link between the ratings and future performance of the companies.”

The study was extensive, examining more than 15,000 ratings of 6,827 separate firms from late 2005 to early 2007. (Many of the corporations are rated by more than one of the governance companies.) It looked for correlations among the ratings and five basic performance metrics: restatements of financial results, shareholder lawsuits, return on assets, a measure of stock valuation known as the Q Ratio, and Alpha—a measure of an investment’s stock price performance on a risk-adjusted basis.

In the case of ISS, the results were particularly shocking. There was no significant correlation between its Corporate Governance Quotient (or CGQ) ratings and any of the five metrics. Audit Integrity fared better, showing “a significant, but generally substantively weak” correlation between its ratings and four of the five metrics (the Q ratio was the exception.) The other two governance firms fell in between, with GMI and TCL each showing correlation with two metrics. But in all three cases, the correlations were very small “and did not appear to be useful,” said Larcker.

There have been many academic attempts to develop a rating that would reflect the overall quality of a firm’s governance, as well as numerous studies examining the relation between various corporate governance choices and corporate performance. But the Stanford study appears to be the first objective analysis of the predictive value of the work of the corporate governance firms.

The Rock Center for Corporate Governance is a joint effort of the schools of business and law. The research was conducted jointly by Robert Daines, the Pritzker Professor of Law and Business, who holds a courtesy appointment at the Business School; Ian Gow, a doctoral student at the Business School; and Larcker. It is the first in a series of multidisciplinary studies to be conducted by the  Rock Center and the Corporate Governance Research Program 

The current study also examined the proxy recommendations to shareholders issued by ISS, the most influential of the four firms. The recommendations delivered by ISS are intended to guide shareholders as they vote on corporate policy, equity compensation plans, and the makeup of their company’s board of directors. The researchers initially assumed that the ISS proxy recommendations to shareholders also reflect their ratings of the corporations.

But the study found there was essentially no relation between its governance ratings and its recommendations. “This is a rather odd result given that [ISS’s ratings index] is claimed to be a measure of governance quality, but ISS does not seem to use their own measure when developing voting recommendations for shareholders,” the study says. Even so, the shareholder recommendations are influential; able to swing 20 to 30 percent of the vote on a contested matter, says Larcker.

There’s another inconsistency in the work of the four rating firms. They each look at the same pool of publicly available data from the Securities and Exchange Commission and other sources, but use different criteria and methodology to compile their ratings.

ISS says it formulates its ratings index by conducting “4,000-plus statistical tests to examine the links between governance variables and 16 measures of risk and performance.” GMI collects data on several hundred governance mechanisms ranging from compensation to takeover defenses and board membership. Audit Integrity’s AGR rating is based on 200 accounting and governance metrics and 3,500 variables while The Corporate Library does not rely on a quantitative analysis, instead reviewing a number of specific areas, such as takeover defenses and board-level accounting issues.

Despite the differences in methodology, one would expect that the bottom line of all four ratings—a call on whether a given corporation is following good governance practices—should be similar. That’s not the case. The study found that there’s surprisingly little correlation among the indexes the rating firms compile. “These results suggest that either the ratings are measuring very different corporate governance constructs and/or there is a high degree of measurement error (i.e., the scores are not reliable) in the rating processes across firms,” the researchers wrote.

The study is likely to be controversial. Ratings and proxy recommendations pertaining to major companies and controversial issues such as mergers are watched closely by the financial press and generally are seen as quite credible. Indeed, board members of rated firms spend significant amounts of time discussing the ratings and attempt to bring governance practices in line with the standards of the watchdogs, says Larcker.

But given the results of the Stanford study, the time and money spent by public companies on improving governance ratings does not appear to result in significant value for shareholders.  

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

From the Scout Report on August 29, 2008

Orbit Downloader 2.7.4 --- 

Accelerated downloads can make everyone's life a little easier, so users will definitely want to check out this latest version of Orbit Downloader. The interface is pretty much the same as in previous versions, but this latest version makes downloading multiple files much more simple and it is particularly invaluable when downloading materials from social media sites. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista.

Opera 9.52 --- 

Opera has always had reliable and interesting bells and whistles, and this version has a few more that are worthy of attention. The new features here include "Quick Find", which remembers not only both the title and addresses of relevant sites, but the actual content as well. Also, this version contains a redesigned address bar drop-down menu. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4, or 10.5.


From the Scout Report on September 5. 2008

BitMeter 3.5.7 --- 

As its name implies, the BitMeter application serves as a bandwidth meter that allows users to visually monitor their Internet connection. Visually, the meter is set up as a basic scrolling graph and users of the application can modify it to display historical data and also set up alerts and audio notifications. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer.

Camino 1.6.3 --- 

In Spanish, the word "camino" means "path" or "way", and over the past few years the Camino web browser has carved out its own "path" throughout the world of Mac users. This latest version of Camino features a newly redesigned interface that is clean and visually cohesive. Additionally, the browser features automated RSS feed detection and an embedded dynamic spell check feature. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4, or 10.5.


Free online textbooks, cases, and tutorials in accounting, finance, economics, and statistics ---

Education Tutorials

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

Basic Immunology --- 

Immunobiology Interactive ---

Physics History Videos:  Physclips ---

Physics Education Technology ---

Clifford Glenwood Shull Collection (Physics) ---

American Institute of Physics: Education ---

Lauren R. Donaldson Collection (first atomic bomb tests) ---

Video: National Geographic's Spore Documentary ---

Hispanics and Health Care in the United States: Access, Information, and Knowledge ---

World AIDs Day Map --- 

P.O.V-Critical Condition (Health Care)

Earth Revealed ---

Freshwater Ecoregions of the World ---

The Canary Project [Global Warming] ---

Ice Stories: Dispatches from Polar Scientists ---

50th Anniversary of NASA ---

NASA: Everest Expedition ---

American Heart Association: Healthy Lifestyle ---

Bob Jensen's threads on free online science, engineering, and medicine tutorials are at ---

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

P.O.V-Critical Condition (Health Care)

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence ---

Latin American Network Information Center ---

Mountain Megas: America's Newest Metropolitan Places and a Federal Partnership to Help Them Prosper ---

Rural Economy and Land Use Programme ---

NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research ---

Council on Foreign Relations: Daily Analysis ---

History & Policy ---

World AIDs Day Map ---

Hispanics and Health Care in the United States: Access, Information, and Knowledge ---

Michigan Discussions in Anthropology ---

Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Economics, Anthropology, Social Sciences, and Philosophy tutorials are at

Law and Legal Studies

Latin American Network Information Center ---

Bob Jensen's threads on law and legal studies are at

Math Tutorials

Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics tutorials are at

History Tutorials

Charlie Parker (films in history) ---

The Atlas of Early Printing (interactive slide show) ---

Council on Foreign Relations: Daily Analysis ---

History & Policy ---

Great Chicago Stories ---

Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery & Lincoln Park ---

Chicago "L".org ---

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence ---

MoMA: Kirchner and the Berlin Street (Art History Slide Show) ---

Latin American Network Information Center ---

Zaida Ben-Yusuf: New York Portrait Photographer ---

Portrait Gallery of Canada ---

Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures (Video) ---

1800s Map of Washington DC (from the University of Maryland) ---

Mountain Megas: America's Newest Metropolitan Places and a Federal Partnership to Help Them Prosper ---

Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982 ---

NYPL Digital Library: Cigarette Cards: ABCs ---

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) ---

Museum of Contemporary Photography ---

Guggenheim Museum: Louise Bourgeois ---

National Gallery of London ---

Irish Museum of Modern Art ---

Masters of Photography (video) ---

Bob Jensen's threads on history tutorials are at
Also see  

Language Tutorials

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Music Tutorials

The Maine Music Box (sheet music and instrument lessons) ---

OperaGlass (guide to arias) ---

Dance Teacher Magazine ---

Library of Congress Search Site for Art, Speeches, Music, and Other Items ---

Bob Jensen's links to music tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

Five Ways to Break Through Writer's Block --- writing helpers ---

The Quotations Archive ---
Other quotations finders ---

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

Updates from WebMD ---


World AIDs Day Map ---

What a sleep study can reveal about fibromyalgia
Research engineers and sleep medicine specialists from two Michigan universities have joined technical and clinical hands to put innovative quantitative analysis, signal-processing technology and computer algorithms to work in the sleep lab. One of their recent findings is that a new approach to analyzing sleep fragmentation appears to distinguish fibromyalgia patients from healthy controls.
PhysOrg, September 3, 2008 ---

Is There a 'Mozart Effect'? Ask a Neuroscientist and a Musicologist
Neuroscientists and musicians have learned that looking at the brain on music can yield valuable insights into how the mind works. Yet, University of Arkansas music theorist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis cautions that such research has produced some unintended consequences, such as the mistaken notion that listening to Mozart in particular boosts brainpower.
PhysOrg, September 4, 2008 ---


A man was in a terrible accident, and his "manhood" was mangled and torn from his body. His doctor assured him that modern medicine could give him back his manhood, but that his insurance wouldn't cover the surgery since it was considered cosmetic. The doctor said the cost would be $3,500 for "small, $6,500 for "medium, $14,000 for "large."

The man was sure he would want a medium or large, but the doctor urged him to talk it over with his wife before he made any decision. The man called his wife on the phone and explained their options. The doctor came back into the room, and found the man looking dejected.

"Well, what have the two of you decided?" asked the doctor.

The man answered, "She'd rather remodel the kitchen."

Forwarded by Maureen

Two men were talking. "So, how's your sex life?"

"Oh, nothing special. I'm having Social Security sex."

"Social Security sex?"

"Yeah, you know; I get a little each month, but not enough to live on!"


Tidbits Archives ---

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at

World Clock ---
Facts about the earth in real time ---

Interesting Online Clock and Calendar ---
Time by Time Zones ---
Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) ---
         Also see
Facts about population growth (video) ---
Projected U.S. Population Growth ---
Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- 
Enter you zip code to get Census Bureau comparisons ---
Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
FinancialRounds Blog ---
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) ---

Some Accounting Blogs

Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) ---
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Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs ---
AccountingWeb ---   
SmartPros ---

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates ---

Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

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Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University ---

VYOM eBooks Directory ---

From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department ---

Online Mathematics Textbooks --- 

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---

Moodle  --- 

The word moodle is an acronym for "modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment", which is quite a mouthful. The Scout Report stated the following about Moodle 1.7. It is a tremendously helpful opens-source e-learning platform. With Moodle, educators can create a wide range of online courses with features that include forums, quizzes, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and surveys. On the Moodle website, visitors can also learn about other features and read about recent updates to the program. This application is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer or Mac OS X and newer.

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a ListServ (usually for free) go to
AECM (Educators) 
AECM is an email Listserv list which provides a forum for discussions of all hardware and software which can be useful in any way for accounting education at the college/university level. Hardware includes all platforms and peripherals. Software includes spreadsheets, practice sets, multimedia authoring and presentation packages, data base programs, tax packages, World Wide Web applications, etc

Roles of a ListServ ---

CPAS-L (Practitioners) 
CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
Yahoo (Practitioners)
This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
Business Valuation Group 
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---


Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482